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Taste Good: Exotic influences mix at Elmhurst’s Good Taste Malaysian

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Good Taste chooses not to compromise the authenticity of its cuisine like some other Malaysian restaurants by prettying it up to accommodate American palates, but this shouldn't be considered an obstacle to enjoying a deliciously exotic meal.Malaysian food is actually an amalgam of influences originating from its multi ethnic population of Malay, Indian, Eurasian, Chinese, Nyonya and the indigenous peoples of Borneo. In most Malaysian dishes, one influence predominates but is usually tempered by the others. If one had to generalize, it would be fair to say that most Malaysian fare tends to be spicy (but not painfully so) and sweet in varying degrees with hints of coconut, and slightly fishy undertones. By the way, if you have a cholesterol problem, this may not be your optimum cuisine. It relies heavily on the use of coconut milk and oil and palm oil. Even if you avoid the fried dishes (which abound), the sauces are laced with aforementioned ingredient­sDetermined to explore as many of the culinary influences as possible, we began with roti canai, an Indian pastry pancake served with a small bowl of Malaysian chicken curry for dipping. It was delicious, if greasy. Next we tried Rojak, a salad which combines tropical fruits and vegetables like green mango and cucumber with a potent sauce of prawn paste, chilli, belacan (dried shrimp paste) and crushed ground nuts toped with a crispy Chinese cruller called a "yu tiaw." Another spicy greasy winner.After that came Kagkung Belacan. Kagkung is an Asian vegetable called convololous, that is similar to spinach. The kagkung and belacan are stir fried together with other spices to create one of Malaysia's most popular vegetable dishes. It is a Nyonya dish. "Nyonya" (pronounced nyah-nyah, like the childish taunt) is a word used to describe a Chinese lady who has adopted the Malay dressing and cooking while maintaining the Chinese culture.Bak Kut Teh, our next dish is a casserole of pork ribs and other pork parts and fried tofu marinated and cooked in rich Chinese herbal soup. The broth was fragrant, and the contents tasty, though fatty.Our next dish, Nasi Lemak, we found out afterwards, is usually eaten for breakfast in Malaysia. Meaning "coconut-flavored rice meal," it is rice cooked in coconut milk made aromatic with pandan leaves (screwpine leaves). It is typically served with Sambal Ikan Bilis Ñ fried dried anchovies cooked in a dry sambal (chili paste) sauce, and garnished with cucumber slices, hard boiled egg and roasted peanuts. It would make a satisfying light meal by itself any time of day.In the interests of trying something with a British colonial influence, we chose Marmite Pork Spare Ribs. What arrived was a platter of thinly sliced pork chops in a sweet sauce tasting ever so faintly of marmite. Not bad, but a little nondescript. Have you noticed "the grass is always greener at the other table" at Asian restaurants? We noticed many fellow diners being served sizzling beancurd that looked absolutely fabulous, but were too overstuffed to try it by the time we caught on. Next time.Our meal crescendoed with a delightful Malaysian dessert Ñ ABC. ABC stands for Air Batu Campur (Ice Mix), which is exactly like its namesake. It is made up of a bowl of sinfully delightful mixture of red bean, cendol (green strands of pandan flavoured rice flour), jelly, peanuts and palm seed kernel topped with a mound of shaved ice, syrup, coconut milk and corn. This very sweet dessert is refreshing when eaten after a hot meal.The Bottom LineIf you are an adventurous eater and food trumps atmosphere in your book, Taste Good lives up to its name. The food is exotic, tasty, and extremely inexpensive, although the cheerful color posters of Malaysian produce and shoal of hanging ribbon fish do not succeed in disguising the underlying grunginess of the decor.Taste Good82-18 45th Avenue, Elmhurst718 898-8001Cuisine: Authenic Malaysian Setting: Oriental grungeService: Adequate Hours: 10:30 am Ð 10:00 pm daily Reservations: noParking: StreetDress: CausualChildren: WelcomeTakeout: Yes Credit cards: No Noise level: Acceptable Handicap accessible: Wheelchair access to restrooms would be possible if obstacles in way moved.Recommended DishesRoti Canai...$2Rojak...$4.75Bak Kut Teh...$6.95/$12.95Kangkung Belacan...$8.95Nasi Lemak...$4.50Sizzling Beancurd...$7.95ABC...$9.50

Posted 7:15 pm, October 10, 2011
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