Malaysian Zoloft

1 Feb

I tried to stay away from politics and/or timely events while writing this recaps of our restaurant experiences, but this one, November 4, 2004, was just too close and fresh to just ignore. And in the case of Malaysian Rasa Sayang, our experience was affected by those events.

Malaysian Rasa Sayang


The rain was coming down hard—a sense of gloom had enveloped the city and was evident even in multi-ethnic Elmhurst, Queens. It was two days after the election of 2004. We had not planned this dinner to be a post-mortem, but the chance was always there and now it was up to Zio’s well-researched selection of Malaysian Rasa Sayang to boost our sagging spirits. Eugene was the first to arrive and it was evident that his spirits were far from sagged: he didn’t care that Bush recaptured the White House, all that mattered to him was that his Red Sox finally did in the Yankees and won a World Series.  Eugene was in prime form to sample the cuisine of Malaysia. And, so were we all—anything to divert us from the sad political reality of the day.


The menu featured 183 items plus 16 house specials, but Gerry’s eyes zeroed immediately in on the crispy pork intestines appetizer which he demanded we order. No one was in a debating mood and maybe a big plate of crispy pork intestines would zap us out of our collective funk. I was intrigued by item number 9, simply called “rojak,” described as a “cool delicious crunchy medley of pineapple, cucumber, jicama, and mango cubes with squid & shrimp crackers and our intensely flavoured shrimp-paste & pulverized peanuts.” Intense flavor is what we always seek, so rojak seemed like a natural. The popiah roll, a steamed roll filled with shrimp, tofu and egg was Zio’s recommendation while I suggested the roti canai,  a pancake-like bread served with a curry dipping sauce.

Intestinal relief.

The pork intestines, thankfully accompanied by two dipping sauces, was the first dish to arrive. They were followed by the popiah roll, the roti canai, and finally, a big plate of rojak, which certainly lived up to it’s intensely-flavored billing.

With help from our waiter, who had the look of an aging horse jockey, we began ordering more from the vast menu. He steered me confidently to the kang kung with belecan Sauce, kang kung, he explained as being the Malaysian equivalent of watercress. He also suggested number 66 on the menu, chow kueh teaw, which he claimed were noodles “very popular in Malaysia.” Zio, for some unknown reason was committed to the sarang burong, described as shaped fried taro with shrimp, chicken, and mixed vegetables topped with cashews while Eugene insisted on beef renang, cubes of beef shank slow cooked to “perfect tenderness” in a rich dry curry sauce.  Gerry settled on number 78, the steamed fish with bean sauce.

Kang Kung

In no particular order, the dishes arrived on our round table. The kang kung, looking like something found growing wild on the shores of the Amazon, was sautéed with garlic   had a crunchy, though not impenetrable consistency. The whole fish, a tilapia, taking up much of the space on the table, sat on a huge platter covered in a sweet and spicy bean sauce while the sarang burong appeared like hollowed out gourd stuffed with vegetables, shrimp, and chicken. Lastly came a big bowl of beef rendang, a fiery, Asian version of beef stew. I’m not sure of the exact moment, but it could have been when I was carefully excising a fish bone from the back of my throat when Eugene, as if we were interested, informed us that he once rode a bus to Radio City Music Hall driven by former New York Yankee, Joe Pepitone’s cousin.  It was soon after that, maybe when soaking up the sauce from the beef rendang in the coconut rice, when we all learned, also by way of Eugene that this day also happened to be Ralph Macchio’s (The Karate Kid) 43rd birthday. It was tidbits like these that made Eugene such a fountain of knowledge.



Again, as is our custom, all the plates were picked clean, including the skeleton of the tilapia. Our taste buds had been intensely flavored and for a few hours at least we forgot about the uncertain future. But then we walked out into the rain. And speaking for myself, it would take a few more meals on the level of Malaysian Rasa Sayang to ultimately remove the bitter taste in my mouth.

Now more than a full election cycle and a half since our dinner at Malaysian Rasa Sayang and it’s almost as if nothing has changed in terms of our “uncertain future.” The future for  Malaysian Rasa Sayang was even worse than uncertain. It is no more replaced instead by a Thai restaurant.

2 Responses to “Malaysian Zoloft”

  1. James Lax February 1, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

    Hey, I did not vote for either one of these empty suits (and heads) yet I too live with the consequences of their actions… I would however vote for this Malaysian restaurant as the food described sounded wonderful ! Stay well and pray the Republicans are not duped into a Palin candidacy !!! P.S. Take the boys out for snow cones while you can ’cause “Global Warming” is right around the corner ! Space Heater Anyone ?

  2. SusiezqYjn October 17, 2015 at 9:13 pm #

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