Thursday, April 7, 2011

Malaysia Kopitiam

It is with a heavy heart that I announce that I am giving up my quest to find a reasonably priced, very good, casual Asian noodle restaurant in downtown DC. I wish I could say that my quest has ended because I finally found "the one" but that's not the case. As a loving wife, I really can't bear the thought of dragging my sweet husband to another disappointing noodle experience because "I read somewhere that this one is supposed to be good" and "maybe this is the one I've been looking for!"
With that introduction, I bet you can guess how we felt about Malaysia Kopitiam. After being disappointed by the new neighborhood noodle house and devastated by the fire at the house o' delicious roti canai, I decided that we should give Malaysian food a try. Malaysia Kopitiam is located in a basement next to a strip club, so you probably don't want to come here if you're into that whole "atmosphere" thing. But since we really like quirky places, we were undeterred. The presence of 8 kazillion Washingtonian Cheap Eats awards on the wall (12 are shown in the picture below but there are more) gave us hope and reminded us of our beloved Adam Express that has the exact same newspaper award photocopied and posted at least 15 times.
After the blissful roti canai experience at Banana Leaves, we had to try Malaysia Kopitiam's version. It was fine but nothing close to Banana Leaves. The roti was a little soggy and the curry had a nice punch, but B wasn't reaching for the bowl to take a swig like he did at Banana Leaves. Budak (you might remember him as falafel guy or, alternatively, as "official co-tester of whatever generic pan-Asian place we covet") chose the fried tofu. It had an odd honey flavor and was squishy rather than crispy. Do yourself a favor and go to Busboys and Poets and order the coconut tofu bites instead.
After flipping through the extensive picture menu for a long time, I was hovering between the penang prawn mee noodle soup and the mamak mee goreng stir fried noodles. On the recommendation of our waitress, I tried the soup. It was enjoyable, but certainly not anything spectacular. The shrimp in the soup weren't deveined, which is always a little off-putting, and the broth, while flavorful, was missing the promised spicy kick.
For B, the waitress suggested the chicken rendang (curry chicken simmered in thick curry gravy with coconut milk). I didn't try it, but I will say that it was the least attractive plate of food you'll ever find.
Budak's dish, the fish cake hor fun (stir fried rice noodles with fish cake, bean sprouts, and spinach) was greasy and almost completely flavorless. Usually I'm blinded by the presence of fat noodles and will happily gobble them up, but one taste of this was enough.

All of this probably would've been overlooked if the place was a promised "cheap eat" but we spent over $50 (2 appetizers, 3 entrees, 1 non-alcoholic drink). On the walk home I told B that I was giving up my quest and instead of encouraging me to push through and keep trying, he thanked me.

Second Thoughts from B

What a sad, sad post. When did J become Eeyore?

In fairness to Malaysia Kopitiam, our disappointment comes from heightened expectations and a steady stream of less than impressive experiences. The frustration has been building for years and this might just have been the straw that breaks this camel's back. So in an effort to turn that frown upside down or make lemonade out of lemons or whatever, I present to you a top 6 list of reasons to visit Malaysia Kopitiam.
  1. Opportunity to get your very own "Restaurateur of the Year 2002" staff t-shirt

  2. Unlimited tap water refills with the most attentive water boy since Adam Sandler

  3. Hard candy from Kyrgyzstan (only available when you bring Budak)

  4. Opportunity to completely butcher the impossible to pronounce name of your dish when ordering

  5. Can't beat the location for a post-lap dance date with Candy, Barbie, or Caroline

  6. Random "fact" quotes on the menu such as "Pork is favorite meat of the Chinese. Typically they do not eat beef as the cow is considered an indispensable beast of burden"
Malaysia Kopitiam on Urbanspoon

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