Truly Malaysian - Belacan Grill
One thing about leaving my home country is the strong craving for Malaysian yummilicious, especially during festive seasons as I know I always can have all kinds of good food to binge, which I have really taken for granted when I was there.
Before the Zhi Lian Kuang cooking engineer said bye bye to his Japan's trip, he said to me, "Hey fish fish, thanks for being a good food guide for me in Japan. I learnt so much about food culture in Japan because of you. Now I know it is not just Sushi and Tempura. Hey, next time, come to So Cal, it'll be my turn to be your guide."
During that time, I didn't even know if I would make it to U.S. After a year, not only I come to U.S, but I grabbed a good chance to visit California for real. Even one month before the trip, I was so excited with the things I was going to experience. I went to his archives and wrote down a list of restaurants and foods that I wanted to try. ^_^
Guess which one was on the top of my list?
Well, my first impression? Name not so Malaysian, more to American way of naming with the GRILL word.
The interior layout was quite an infused style. Couldn't really say it is Malaysian neither. However, I love the high ceiling. It gives the whole place a very warm and relaxing ambience for a slow evening meal.
We searched for "Shit Clam" in a few supermarkets only to be able to get the frozen ones. Oh well, better than nothing?
For the night, I got the chance to meet another 2 new friends. Ayumu and his wife, Naomi. Great people. It was such a lovely night be with them. Thank you so much Mr. Zhi Lian Kuang for introducing them to me, giving a good chance to practise my rottening Japanese. :P Well, they speak very good English, so we used English most of the time actually.
In Japanese way, I should have noted Ayumu as Tokiwa san and his wife as Okusan (polite way of calling Mrs.). However, I made my own way of calling... Ayumu san and Naomi san. Hehe... I know, that was a wrong way of calling Japanese name, but calling their name in a direct way without using a prefix is just too weird for me as I just knew them for the 1st time.
Hmmm... really have to get used to the non-Japanese way of greeting a person's name.
Ok, back to the main focus of the night, the great foods! ;)
Since there were 4 of us, we placed quite a number of orders.
... there was a plate of chicken and lamb satays.
Mmmmm... taste and texture were both amazingly good. Finely grilled at the outer layer yet so soft and juicy for the inner part. It came with the peanut sauce that reminded me so much of the good old days of munching stick by stick of petite pork satay at Hui Sing hawker stalls.
Oh yes, even back in Malaysia, not many can grill a satay in such a perfect way like Belacan Grill.
Luckily I didn't drop a tear like what someone did with his durian. Tee hee hee...
The 2nd appetizer was this Roti Canai with curry sauce.
Another great preparation to give a big applause. The roti canai was done in a way the top layer of the whole piece was thin and crispy, yet the inner layer giving a chewy texture that a good roti canai should have. Lack of the animal style nutty ghee, but with a more healthy fragrance from the melted butter inside this piece.
When I looked at the too watery curry at first, I was sceptical whether it was going to be a good gravy to go with the Roti Canai. Proved that I was wrong. The gravy was very flavourful. Once again, another choice that brought me back to the mamak stall during my students life in Malaysia.
"Boss, canai satu! Kuah semua mahu, manyak manyak. Milo kosong tebal satu!"
My typical favorite heart-killing supper. Oh my, such an unhealthy old times, yet so nostalgic.
The last appetizer before the main goodies, this Fried Calamari.
Mamamia~~~ it tasted so much like a Fried Calamari in Japan. The only thing that make it more to a Malaysian was that small plate of sweet chili sauce on the side. Oh yes, I am an all time fetish to sweet chili sauce when concerning deep fried food.
The Calamari itself was a great dish. Light batter that was so crispy. Calamari that was so soft. Need a real experience for a good frying time to yield this combination.
Char Kueh Tiaw is a basic benchmark for a lot of Malaysians abroad to judge a Malaysian restaurant of its authenticity.
This one, truly marked out its authentic Malaysian style Char Kueh Tiaw. Everything was perfect, except the frozen cockles that we brought. The cockles were severely shrunk, texture like a rubber and tasteless. *tsk tsk tsk* Lesson learnt, never think frozen version will replace a fresh on fairly good. It should not even be considered in the 1st thought.
It was as though I was still in my home sweet home when I gulped down this plate of Char Kueh Tiaw. A very touched moment for myself that was beyond words.
Those of you in So Cal, if you want to look for a good old Malaysian Char Kueh Tiaw, you don't want to miss this place.
We also ordered a few main dishes that went very well with their fragrance Jasmine rice.
A whole pot of spicy and flavourful prawn curry with assorted vegetables. The prawns were very sweet and blended so well with the curry. Vegetables were pre-fried so that it maintained the nice shape and texture while absorbed all the goodies from the curry.
One could just eat 2 big plates of rice with the curry sauce alone.
Just okay. Quite a disappointing plate. It should be with more belacan paste and chili to make it a true Malaysian style. The Kangkong itself however, was very nicely done, not too raw, not too cooked.
The most disappointing plate of main dish for the night.
Black pepper crab. Unfortunately, I could hardly sensed the hissing effect of black pepper. It was too sweet and too dry. The crab was over-fried.
We decided to go for 2 kinds of Malaysian dessert.
... ice kacang.
They were so so. I prefer the ice kacang because of the crunchy peanuts although it is unusual to have so much whole peanut as a topping for a Malaysian ice kacang.
I miss my favorite ice kacang in Kuching.
The whole meal was very reasonable. We enjoyed the food so much.
At the end of the meal, I laughed because of this so-not-Malaysian fortune cookies. Hmmm...
Anyway, I opened one and here was my fortune.
Hehe... such a common sense thing.
Belacan Grill worths a big Two Thumbs up from me.
During the meal, Ayumu and Naomi decided to invite us to their Japanese New Year Osechi on Jan 1st. Oh my... fish fish and the cooking engineer were so excited that we accepted that without any hesitation. *So shameless*
:P We really glad we did. You will know why in my next post.