Kaya Malay Bistro

Yesterday night, Mamallama and Baby-Paca came to UBC to hear me perform songs from around the world at UBC’s choir concert. We were hungry after the performance, so I pulled up Zomato and searched up restaurants that were relatively close by. After scrolling through a few pages, I came across Kaya Malay Bistro which had a pretty high rating, so we decided to give them a try.

The bistro was quaint and a little dark. There were only another party besides us when we arrived at 8:30 on a Wednesday night (they close at 10). After we perused the menu for awhile, we decided on the softshell crab, roti canai, satay skewers, calamari and Singapore laksa. Shortly after our waitress put order in, I remembered that Mamallama doesn’t eat rice vermicelli, so instead of having 4 appetizers and 1 entree, I decided to swap out the calamari for pad Thai. Our waitress informed us that the kitchen was already making it, but she kindly told me that it wouldn’t be a problem.

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The crispy softshell crab ($11) was sauteed with fresh onions, garlic and shallot, chili and Indian black peppercorn. It was absolutely delicious. It had such a fragrant salty peppery taste, yet the crab flavour was not lost, it was actually quite bold even. It was only mildly spicy so Mamallama was able to enjoy it without a problem.

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The roti canai ($7) was alright. It had a crispy exterior and it wasn’t greasy, but it could’ve been a little more flaky. The curry sauce it was served with didn’t compliment the roti canai very well, it was watered down and a little too sweet for our preference. Baby-Paca and I thought the roti canai tasted better with the peanut dip that came with the satay skewers.

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The satay skewers were $1.75 per skewer with a minimum order of 6. We decided to get 2 each of the beef, chicken and lamb. They were all tender and had a wonderful charred flavour. If I had to rank them, lamb would come first, then chicken, and beef. I highly recommend the lamb. It was perfectly seasoned and the flavours went impeccably with that of the peanut sauce. And while the menu advertised that the peanut dip was spicy, the heat was missing, but we didn’t mind at all.

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The Singapore laksa ($12) came topped with shrimp, fish cake, chicken, half an egg and bean sprouts. The coconut broth could’ve been creamier and it tasted overwhelmingly of dried shrimp, which made the entire bowl of rice vermicelli a little too fishy for me and Baby-Paca’s taste. It wasn’t awful, but I don’t like the flavour of dried shrimp, so it was literally all I could taste. I finished my small bowl, but I wouldn’t order it again.

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The pad Thai ($12) was great. The rice noodles were stir fried with an ample amount of shrimp, firm tofu, bell peppers, bean sprouts and egg. A lime wedge and crushed peanuts were served on the side of the plate. It was neither too wet, nor too dry, it was stir fried with the perfect amount of sauce, which had a good balance of tamarind, fish sauce, and tomato-y goodness.

What we ordered was enough to pack for lunch the next day, granted that we just had noodles left. The soft shell crab and lamb skewers were just exquisite. It’s nice to have found a nice Malaysian bistro as my family rarely ever goes for Malaysian food.

Kaya Malay Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

KAYA MALAY BISTRO
+1 604 730 9963
Fairview
1063 West Broadway, Vancouver

Cafe D’Lite Express

Cafe D’Lite is another popular food stand at the Aberdeen food court. Their most popular items are the Hainanese chicken rice and their laksa. Baby-Paca, Mamallama and I usually get the Hainanese chicken rice, but it was a cold, blustery day and we were in need of some soupy comfort that would warm us up from the inside out. We decided on the Hainanese chicken laksa ($8.25). I was not a fan of laksa previously, but it may largely be due to the fact that I’ve never had good laksa. So I got adventurous and decided to test if my taste has changed.

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I’m slightly appalled and reluctant about eating anything that has a film of oil floating on top, but I’m glad I tried it because the coconut curry broth was creamy, fragrant and flavourful. I was expecting it to be spicy, considering the amount of chili oil floating around, but it was barely spicy at all. There were plenty of Hainanese chicken, a bunch of bean sprouts and a few tofu puffs. Their chicken were plump, juicy, tender morsels. The best part is that it’s boneless. But there’s been agreement that their Hainanese chicken used to be better, I find that they’ve recently lost some of its flavour. I was surprised to find rice vermicelli noodles at the bottom. Completely random, but it was a pleasant surprise because I didn’t really like the thick dense yellow noodles. They were kind of bland as the soup just kind of slipped off the strand of noodles. The flavour of the soup clung onto the rice vermicelli better.

The final verdict? This bowl of laksa was pretty decent, not amazing, but I think it sparked my interest. Now I’ll be off on the hunt for that perfect bowl of laksa.

Cafe D'Lite Express Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

CAFE D’LITE EXPRESS
+1 604 295 6603
Central Richmond
Aberdeen Centre, 3210-4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond

Tropika

It was girls’ night and KitKat, Jujube and I were actually on our way over to Guu Garlic when we passed by Tropika, Jujube got excited and asked us whether we’d be down for some Thai food instead. Since our feet were aching and our stomaches were growling from some intense shopping (it’s hard work, k?) we were totally down for some immediate gratification as Guu was still a few blocks away and would probably have a wait list.

We were brought to our seats promptly and we immediately began browsing through the menu. We started off with some drinks. KitKat got Tropika’s Sunset, Jujube got Deep Blue Sky and I got a Lychee Daiquiri. I was under the impression that my lychee daiquiri was going to be alcohol free since it was listed under virgin cocktails (didn’t see any daiquiris in the cocktails list), but SUPRISE! it had alcohol. It was also a $3 up charge. I didn’t mind it, it tasted good, but unfortunately for me, I got the bad end of the gene pool when it comes to the Asian glow so I gave KitKat my drink near the end because I didn’t want to be red when we hit the streets. Out of all our drinks, Tropika’s Sunset tasted the most boozy. The Deep Blue Sky was refreshing with peachy notes, the blue colour was also really pretty.

For food, we ordered roti, satay skewers, Indonesian spring rolls, pad thai and green curry chicken.

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Roti canai ($6.25): The ideal roti consists of thin flaky dough, fluffy on the inside and crisp on the outside. This Malay flatbread was flakey, and had a nice buttery flavour, however, I would’ve preferred if it had a crispier exterior. It was still pretty tasty with the thin curry dipping sauce it was served with though.

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Satays (choice of beef, lamb, pork or chicken. Min order of 6 sticks at $1.50 each): We ordered beef, lamb and chicken. The meat had a nice char on the outside and was tender and juicy on the inside. The flavourful chunky peanut sauce was nutty and spicy with a touch of sweetness, which went great with the skewers.

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Indonesian spring rolls ($5.50): Pan fried chicken, Chinese mushroom, and shredded jicama, served in a crispy shell of deep-fried flour and crushed peanuts. This was my least favourite dish. The inside of the spring roll was almost entirely all jicama (Mexican turnip) which just tasted bland and starchy. The aggressive flavours of the sweet and spicy chill sauce made up for the lack of flavours of the spring roll, but the filling was a little disappointing.

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Pad thai ($14.95): Stir fried rice noodle with chicken, shrimp and tofu with bean sprouts, crushed peanuts and lime on the side. In the menu description, they forgot to mention they also add tomatoes. That’s not really a problem, but the sauce just tasted too tomatoey. I was promised flavours of tamarind, fish sauce, peanuts and lime, but instead, I got spicy tomato. The shrimp also tasted a bit overcooked, but everything else was alright.

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Thai green curry chicken ($16.95): Chicken, green beans and eggplants in green chili coconut milk curry. I was bummed that this didn’t have potatoes (because I like potatoes). The curry was very aromatic, and smooth and creamy. KitKat doesn’t like eggplants, but I thought they were the bomb. The eggplants had deep flavours (I think they were roasted beforehand?) and were soft without being overly mushy. I bit into it and it was just like an explosion of flavour. KitKat doesn’t know what she’s missing out on. The chicken was tender, but they tasted like the leaner cuts of meat, which have a slightly tougher texture (but without the dryness). We were unaware that the curry didn’t come with rice, so we ordered 2 bowls of Hainan rice to go with our curry, which pretty much arrived right away.

Overall, we had a nice time at Tropika. Except the fact that KitKat and Jujube were laughing at me the entire time I was trying to get that money shot (Jk. I had a pretty good time too, but food blogging is serious business, ok? Hahah). Anyway, service was polite, glasses were refilled before they were empty, our food arrived quickly, and dirty dishes were promptly removed. Tropika also has another location in Fairview and Lansdowne, Richmond.

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TROPIKA
+1 604 737 6002
West End
1128 Robson Street, Vancouver