Island Malaysian Cuisine
5115 Spring Mountain Rd
Las Vegas, NV 89146
It is Saturday night in Las Vegas and a friend is in town for the weekend. We want to eat someplace reasonably priced so I suggest Chinatown which has one of my favorite restaurants; Islands Malaysian Cuisine which is on Spring Mountain Road. It is located on the second floor of a strip mall which has a surprising array of restaurants for such a compact location.
The decor is simple and unpretentious, hallmarks of some of the best mom and pop restaurants in my book. It can be crowded on weekends but you are almost always assured of a seat without a wait.
We order 4 basic dishes which are true representations of everyday Malaysian cooking. We start with the Rojak which is a fresh fruit salad with pineapple, mango, jicama and taopok which is puffy, deep fried tofu. It comes with a dark tamarind and black bean based dressing which is salty and sweet and topped with crushed peanuts. Can you say delicious? I especially love the unexpected combination of the crunchy jicama with the puffy tofu.
We also ordered prawn sambal. Sambal in it’s most basic form is a chili based sauce. It is red and you can find it commercially here in the US, usually in plastic bottles labelled as sambal oelek. Most people will recognize it from dining at Thai or Vietnamese restaurants where diners can add sambal to vary the spiciness of their dishes. The sambal in our prawn dish is made with a pungent and salty shrimp paste called blachan.
Growing up I had almost no exposure to blachan because my mom couldn’t stand it’s odor. Imagine my delight at finding how tasty this previously forbidden food was when I first ate it as a teenager! So if you are game to try something spicy and a tad pungent then I highly recommend the prawn sambal and the other dishes with blachan served at this restaurant.
We also ordered kangkung blachan. Kangkung is water spinach, a plant which is commonly found and consumed in southeast Asia.
Our last entree was a Chinese noodle dish called Char Ho Fun. Flat rice noodles with shrimp and chicken are served in an egg and oyster sauce gravy. This was my favorite dish of the evening. It was filling, wholesome and is representative of what Islands Malaysian Cuisine serves best; delicious everyday basic Malaysian cooking.
We ended the evening with Ice Kacang which is essentially shaved ice served with red beans, agar agar(jelly), sweet corn and topped with condensed milk. 4 entrees, 1 dessert and rice and the whole outing cost $45! So next time you have an inkling for some Asian food, head to this little eatery. The wait staff is friendly and helpful, the portions are generous, the prices reasonable and the cooking is pretty darn close to what you would get at any good and local cafe in Malaysia.
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