promising Malay food found in renovated Chinatown basement
by Jon Lomow
Ottawa is well fed by its Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese restaurants, but Malay food is not something with which this city is yet intimate. Enter Pedas Malaysian Kitchen, a newly opened sister to its New York location.
A few weeks ago Pedas quietly replaced the once decent Viet Notom Noodle House in the basement of the Chinatown mini-mall that houses the famous Global Homewares gift shop. The room has been nicely renovated and offers a far warmer womb from which to nurse your Malaysian affections.
Pedas offers up some much welcomed variety to Chinatown, and a solid experience. I have yet to fully explore the menu, but so far I’m excited about the potential. The early online reviews by eager Malay food fans are somewhat negative, but I think Pedas — with only a few weeks under its belt — has started to figure things out, and will continue to do so in the coming weeks. I intend to keep a close, um, stomach.
The Yong Tau Fu is a nice break from the barrage of Vietnamese soups this city has to offer — although I’m not sure I’ll ever tire of the great work at Huong’s Vietnamese Bistro.
It’s a soup chock-full of ingredients and choice. It’s like a hot bowl of choose-your-own-adventure: you pick the noodles (egg, rice noodle or rice vermicelli) and the broth (clear consommé or coconut curry) — you can also request extra spicy. Yong Tau Fu soup is originally a Chinese creation, but has become very popular in several neighbouring countries. Malaysians have adopted it into the Laksa repertoire. To the best of my knowledge, going with the thicker rice noodles and the curry broth will best situate you on the streets of Kuala Lumpur.
In the soup, you’ll find a variety of fish-paste-stuffed items. Tofu (“Yong Tau Fu” means stuffed bean curd), bitter melon, eggplant and a poblano pepper. On top: fried onions, fresh green onions and cilantro.
This soup leaves me wanting more, and hopeful Pedas will get its Malacca Strait sea legs and provide a consistently yummy Malay food experience to Ottawa. Time will tell if Ottawa has laksa love for Pedas.
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