1063 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC
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Kaya Malay Bistro came from a recommendation of a patient at my family doctor's clinic. Throughout our conversation, he kept on raving about their roti canai. He said, translated from Chinese, "Kaya has the best roti canai in Vancouver". Well, after finding out that he's the chef behind a local high-Urbanspoon-rating Malaysian restaurant, I took his word for it and dragged MomJ and Buddha Boy along.
The restaurant was chic, modern and spacious. I thought it would be busy on a Friday night, but it wasn't. As soon as we walked in, I noticed a familiar face, and that face thought the same. After chatting, I realized that she was my former casino colleague from ten years ago. Hehehe...small world!
The first thing we ordered was Mini Soft Shell Crab. The crab was sauteed in onions, garlic, shallots, chili and black peppercorn. The feeling of eating "soft shell crab" was lost in that heavy coat of batter. The seasoning was salty.
Next came the Appetizer Sampler. The nicely charred thigh-meat Chicken Skewers were moist and flavorful on its own, so the dip was not really needed. Mind you, the spicy peanut sauce did gave it a nice kick. The Vegetarian Samosa and its accompanied spicy sauce were nothing special. The Calamari was a bit disappointing. Not only it was lukewarm, almost to the point of being cold, but the approach of marinating it in curry spice didn't quite do the charm for me. The Roti Canai had crisp surfaces, but it was a bit dense. The accompanied curry sauce was rich and thick, which, as always, complimented the flatbread well. Sorry to say, but for us, the roti canai at Kaya Malay Bistro was definitely not the best we've had in Vancouver.
The Seafood Fried Rice in Pineapple Boat had lots of pineapple chunks, limited raisins, confined sunflower seeds, minimal seafood, and...egg? The rice overall lacked flavors, perhaps just a pinch of salt would do the magic.
The Singapore Laksa was a pretty large bowl with prawns, chicken, bean sprouts, boiled egg and fish cake. The noodles used here were thin and were overcooked. The coconut curry broth was a bit too gritty, a bit too salty and a bit too oily.
Next came our half order of Hainanese Chicken. Not the best we've had, but still acceptable. Some pieces were tough and chewy. The sauces were pretty standard.
Buddha Boy was disappointed with the Rendang Beef. It seemed that the stew was not cooked long enough to allow the coconut milk to evaporate completely. The meat, because it was not stewed long enough, was tough and lacked the necessary intense flavors.
The Nasi Kunyit (left), or rice prepared with turmeric coconut milk, was something new for us. The turmeric really showed its presence but was quickly calmed by hints of coconut milk. The Hainanese Steamed Rice (right) was boring.
Thanks to my former casino colleague and restaurant management, we were offered a complimentary dessert of choice. Prior to our visit, I already had Kuih Dadar in mind. These were pandan-flavored crepes filled with grated coconut in palm sugar. I love pandan, and I could actually taste the pandan in the crepes, however, the unbearable sweetness was too much for me.
While we're not experts in this cuisine, we do enjoy the common dishes, so it's really nice to see another Malaysian restaurant in Vancouver. However, that being said, we're really not sure if we'd return anytime soon...or at all. The ambiance was great, the service was great, but as for food, well, we've had better experiences elsewhere in 604...at better prices too.