After a really exhausting day (read: an eight-hour hike to behold the majesty of Garibaldi Lake), we were
kind of starving.
So, without realizing that we’d be driving somewhere really out of the way—and that we had a limited amount of time to go home, shower, and get ready to go out later at night—Grace decided that Kaya Malay Bistro was a good idea. (Although Asian food is usually a good idea.)
They have a pretty impressive Asian-influenced cocktail menu. Lots of lychee, mango, and other yummy fruits. Obviously Mell started with a drink. Grace was sorely tempted by the piña colada but she wasn’t allowed to drink tonight. Boo.
M: First thing you need to know about me is (G: other than the fact that she loves to drink) that if there’s lychee ANYWHERE on the menu, I’m ordering it, hands down. Because this drink was an easy decision for me and because it also involved mango (and of course it was a double), I automatically loved it.
We started with the mini steamed mussels. Because how do you say no to mussels?
G: They’re alright… more clam-sized than mussel-sized. There’s a lot of broth and I can really taste the cumin—very strong flavours but I personally enjoy seafood’s natural taste. Want to try?
G: How is it?
M: Meh. It wasn’t mind blowing; I also felt the cumin was slightly overpowering but I actually like the distinct flavours of the broth. Because I, unlike you, am not fond of intense seafood taste.
G: Yeah. Well aren’t we enthusiastic about this dish.
We also shared the appetizer sampler for two. Because we both enjoy variety, it was a good way to try a few of their appies. The sampler came with three sauces: spicy peanut sauce for the skewers, curry for the salad and veggie samosas, and a spicy sauce. Our favourite was the peanut.
G: That roti is so good. So soft and fluffy!
M: I enjoy Malaysian roti; the taste is slightly nuttier and the bread is crispier. And who are we kidding, everything’s better with sauce.
G: Love that the calamari isn’t rubbery.
M: I would have preferred the calamari to not be as thick. I usually like thinner foods, mainly because it allows more surface area per food to have more sauce/crisp/flavour in general.
Mell also got laksa (her first time, yay laksa cherry popped) and she ordered hers mostly vegetarian, with no prawn and no chicken. Kudos to our server—and our guide—for taking the request in stride and also for advising us to include the fish cake because it factors greatly in the flavours of the soup. (We took her advice, of course.) Upon trying the actual fish cake though, Mell removed the rest of it from the bowl; it wasn’t too tasty to eat. Worth noting: it’s a massive portion and she was disappointed that she was too full to finish it. Also worth noting: this doesn’t happen often.
It’s interesting that Kaya is a Malay restaurant, but it also does a bit of Singaporean food (not surprising because the two cultures and cuisines are closely related) and even some Thai. Neither of us are Singaporean or Malay though, so we don’t know the differences between these types of cuisine (if any), but it’s something that we’re definitely curious about.
M: Delicious. It’s an atypical broth for me because it tastes quite curry-esque. Love the noodles and egg and I’m working on my skills at putting a little bit of everything on my spoon Asian-style.
G: You really need to work on that spooning.
Luckily for Kaya, our friend Ming had a mean case of the munchies. He had an appetizer sampler to himself, and also a giant plate of pad thai—you know, the thing that everyone orders. Although to be fair, he knew it was a rookie move. (We still love you, Ming.)
We asked him how it tasted, but he just said something that sounded like “It’s good” before wolfing down the whole thing. It probably had something to do with the special brownie that he had in the car beforehand—which meant that he had ample room for dessert. So, he ordered a Pisang Goreng. Yes, that is ice-cream with deep fried banana.
Our experience here was overall pretty good, and if you can handle spice, you’ll enjoy the food that much more. If you’re craving Asian and want something other than the typical, this is perfect. The service was very attentive throughout the night, and the servers were happy to take the time to explain dishes that we weren’t familiar with. (If you eat out at Asian restaurants often, you’ll know that this pretty much never happens.)
Four for you, Kaya.