Monday, 10 May 2010
Old Penang Restaurant, 21 Dalziel Place Abbeyhill, Edinburgh EH7 5TP, Scotland
Being one of those adventurous types (never afraid to try new things and all that), we decided to seek out Malaysian food while we were in Edinburgh.
Oh come on, I did try traditional local cuisine the day before … haggis was niiiiiice. But after we’d had enough of haggis - and don’t even mention tatties and neeps, or was it neeps and tatties? EVERYTHING is served with those neeps and tatties – anyway, back to what I was saying, after we’d had enough of that, we decided to try out the Malaysian restaurant in Edinburgh. Just to check out what it’s like, you know.
Took this picture from our parking spot. Almost like eating from a drive-thru, but with tables and chairs.
The menu was one impressive leather-bound affair. Each page had a sketch of a famous Malaysian landmark, with the dishes described quite aptly; neatly categorised into starters, main meals and dessert.
There was one page at the end of the menu with ‘specials’, which also had those three sections in it. I guess the chef had new inspiration (but couldn’t be bothered re-printing the menu). It’s kinda like hiding a bonus bit of the movie in the credits – a bonus for those (losers) who stay on after the film has ended.
This entire restaurant is managed by one nice lady who manages to take orders, clear up tables, welcome the diners, set the tables, take the phone orders, bring out the food, take the drinks orders, make the drinks, manage the table bookings – all at the same time. She is quite the capable one, not to mention extremely friendly.
You would have thought that someone in her position would be just grouchy beyond belief (if they found the time), but she was good service personified. If we could have nominated her for the Best Service Award, we would have done. But then she would have had to process that too.
OK, I’ll be the first to say that the lighting on the photos could have been better, but come on, all I had to work with was a very dim area of the restaurant, a few tea lights, and some very hungry people not wanting to wait while I snapped my photos.
There was supposed to be four of us for dinner, but one of the guys was delayed so while the three of us waited, we decided to do what all friends do. Eat while you wait. We couldn’t decide what to order so chickened out and asked for the mixed platter (a little bit of everything).
The sharper ones amongst you would have noticed how the fish cakes are Conflict Fish Cakes. Three to be shared between two? Impossible.
I’m not one who likes spring roll. What you usually get when you order spring rolls are a few little deep-fried, soggy, bland pastries filled with bland, soggy vegetables.
But this spring roll was completely different to what I had before. Not only was the wrapping quite thick (almost like it was battered with something lovely and crunchy), but the filling had all sorts of goodies in it. Wood ear fungus (mook yee), tasty vegetables and a great pastry made these two spring rolls one of the best I’ve had.
When my friend told me that the food in this restaurant was really good, a part of me doubted her (terrible, I know). I thought she’d been away from authentic Malaysian food too long to be a good judge of authenticity, but it turns out she was spot on. The food in this place is really surprisingly authentic for a tiny, unassuming restaurant all the way up north.
This satay was really very good. Tender pieces of chicken just loving the fact that they were in peanut sauce. Absolutely loving it.
Fight-worthy fish cakes. Chewy, delicate, quivering little morsels of fish, with a taste of Thailand in the spice. It began with:
‘I’ll just cut this in half, just want to taste it.’
‘No, you go for it. Go on, have that half’.
‘Oh OK then, I’ll have that last piece.’
Chilli padi chicken £9.90
From just reading the menu, it was difficult to guess what this would be like, as I’d never heard of this dish before. When it came, everyone kinda breathed a sigh of relief as this was in no way as spicy as we feared it would be. Deep fried tender pieces of chicken, drizzled with some tangy, sweet, spicy sticky sauce. Tasted almost like lemon chicken, but not as lemony, and with a slight bit of spice. Surprisingly tasty dish, and one that I would like to have again.
It’s getting kinda orange in here
Sambal chicken £9.90
The reason I chose this dish was not because the description but because it seemed to be the one with the most number of items on the plate. So I’m more of a quantity person, so what. Crispy deep-fried pieces of chicken cooked in sambal (slightly spicy and sweet) with onions, served along side very well-battered deep fried squid rings, some sweet and sour (nicely chilled) achar (pickled vegetables), and lovely flavoured rice. Really delicious, the chicken pieces were tender and perfectly marinated, and just a lovely dish on the whole.
The well-battered deep fried squid rings.
Hainanese chicken rice £9.90
Although this might not have been THE most authentic Hainanese chicken rice I’ve tasted, it sure came close to being the real thing. The fried chicken was lovely and tasted of all the soy sauce and spices it was meant to have, the rice was chicken-flavoured as it should be, and this dish was another winner.
Would I recommend this place? Well, not having been to another Malaysian restaurant in Edinburgh, I can’t really compare this to any other place there, but if you’re craving some Malaysian dishes, this place does it as well as anywhere else so yes, I would definitely recommend this place.
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