“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way.” - William Blake
by Chason Gordon
- The Capitol Hill Times -
They say eating local food is the best way to learn about a new culture. That’s not exactly true; dating someone from that culture is far better, but since I don’t know any Malaysian women, the food will have to suffice.
Kedai Makan, the popular Malaysian food truck, has opened a brick and mortar (with other materials) in the old Taco Gringos location on East Olive Way. I don’t know if other food trucks consider this selling out, but Capitol Hill residents now have a new late-night option as they stumble around looking for food.
The restaurant is purely take-out. There’s not a single chair to sit on or a thing to lean against, not even a jukebox. A sign lets you know that your food may be taken over to Montana (the adjacent bar, not the state, because it would be cold by the time you got there). Though the setup is clever and convenient, it feels a little wrong. Did you guys ask Montana? Are you sure it’s cool with them? I get nervous. One time some friends and I brought pizza into a Tim Horton’s and a fight almost broke out. True story.
Kedai’s rotating menu contains a nice sampling of Malaysian cuisine, including Nasi Goreng, a fried rice dish served with sprouts and topped with a runny egg (it’s what Rocky would eat during training if he were Malaysian), and Bone-in Curry Chicken with rice, which is what you’d imagine. They also serve smaller dishes like Roti Canai, a Malaysian-style roti with lentil curry.
The Nasi Goreng is the most popular. It has nicely textured fried rice with spices well complimented by the runny egg. Sometimes they ask you if you’re ok with a runny egg on top. Say yes. The curry chicken, which is an occasional special, was wonderfully tender and fiery. Here’s how tender it was: the cashier forgot to give me a plastic knife, so I used my spoon and fork to cut the chicken, and though I imagine the two utensils were shocked to be working together, the meat easily broke apart.
Without a doubt, the showstopper is the Roti Canai. It’s warm, sweet and flaky, and is what would happen if a pancake slept with a croissant. If we printed our newspaper on this stuff we’d have a much wider circulation. The accompanying lentil curry dipping sauce is a thick pool of wonderful. Sometimes you go in for a small dip, and sometimes you dunk the roti like you want information. I can easily see this dish becoming a reliable drunk food, which is convenient because you’re eating in Montana (they have a lot of alcohol).
It’s nice to learn about a new cuisine. Before eating at Kedai, I just ignorantly assumed Malaysian food was comprised of rice and rice-related dishes, and though I was mostly right, there’s a little more to it. After sopping up the last smear of curry, I wondered over to City Market and bought a bag of Jelly Belly Snapple-flavored jelly beans. Those were good too.
1510 East Olive Way
4 p.m. to 12 a.m, 2:30 a.m. on weekends. Closed Tuesday.