1 STAR - Unacceptable
2 STARS - Dislike It
3 STARS - Good
4 STARS - Excellent
5 STARS - Exceptional
I've debated on going to this place many times and finally, the opportunity came by. Kaya Malay Bistro was participating in the 2017 Dine Out Vancouver Festival. Here is the breakdown of my experience.
The exterior signage is vibrant, large and not hard to miss during the day and especially in the evening. The interior looked simple and could use a bit more of a Malaysian flare. With the high ceiling, it felt a bit too open and it would benefit the restaurant if they had a nice chandelier or hanging decorations.
The tables and chairs were simple but I liked how the tables against the wall had a banquette.
The lighting was a little dim for my liking. This did affect some pictures taken from my family's phones because we love taking pictures. I have a Google Pixel and one of the bonuses is that the camera can take photos in low light situations.
The dishes on the Dine Out menu that my family ordered were:
1. Tofu Goreng - Good balance of flavours with a crispy tofu crust and soft tofu texture on the inside.
2. Yusheng Salmon & Kale Toss - The poached salmon was tasty and not dry. I liked the traces of jellyfish, carrots and crunchy flakes sitting on top of the bed of kale.
3. Wok Fried Prawns & Scallops with Turmeric Rice - This dish did not catch my attention. The sauce that coated the prawns, scallops and veggies were a bit excessive. The sauce also overpowered the flavours of the seafood. The dish had too many veggies over the ratio of seafood.
The presentation looked dull and in my opinion, could easily be mistaken for a sweet and sour Chinese dish.
4. Roasted Pork Side Ribs on Jasmine Rice - The ribs were tasty but they were not as juicy as I thought it would be and not as tender to the point it was falling off of the bone. The Kaya style green curry that came with the ribs was a little watery for me. I like curries that will coat the meat a little when it is used as a dipping sauce.
5. Pandan Cheese Panna Cotta - This was the first time I tried panna cotta. The dessert was creamy in the mouth and very tasty. I usually hate creamy desserts that make you thirsty because of the pasty feeling it leaves in your mouth. That was not the case for this dessert. It was awesome and it had a balanced moisture in your mouth without the need to drink.
6. Berry & Plum Sugar Crepe - This spring roll looking dessert had many levels of sweetness from the mango sauce to the filling of the Sugar crepe. I don't think everyone will like this dessert but it is worth the try and it leans more on the good side with it's flavours.
What my family ordered from the regular menu
1. Roti Canai - The roti canai was delicious and it had a nice curry sauce to dip it in. This curry sauce is different than the one I had with my ribs entree.
2. Chicken & Beef Satay Skewers - The chicken and beef skewers were great and I would order many of these on my next visit. The peanut sauce compliments the well-seasoned meat skewers.
3. Vegetarian Curry Samosas - The samosas were plain tasting and I wouldn't order them again. There was nothing special about them for me to grab the second piece.
4. Singapore Laksa - The Singapore laksa was full of ingredients and equally portioned. The coconut broth was rich(true to the description of the menu) and if it were a little spicier, it would have been perfect.
5. K.L. Hokkien Mee - To be honest, this dish was overpowered by the dark soy sauce. The quality was similar to what you order in a food court in a mall. The presentation did not meet my expectations because it looked out of place with the other dishes that we have ordered.
6. Char Kuey Teow - Fried flat rice noodles are my favourite. I liked this dish because it had a fair amount of prawns, squid and fish cakes.
7. Trio Dessert Platter - All three desserts deep fried banana, Pisang Goreng and vanilla ice cream in this sampler is amazing. It's either you like 1, 2, or all 3. I liked all three because any sweet treat after a meal is a bonus. Just as long if the dessert is not drowned in some sort of syrup.
8. Deep Fried Coconut Helado - I don't want to spoil this dessert but my family had 2 orders of this and it was finished in minutes. I highly recommend this dessert. Unfortunately, it says on their menu that this is a limited offer. I hope they make this dessert a permanent option on their menu.
I had nothing to complain about with their service. The servers were friendly and gave an honest opinion when we needed suggestions on what to order. They have plenty of knowledge on what was popular on their menu and not.
The owner/chef came out a few times to serve us our meals. I came to realize this after we left because I was looking at their website and seen a picture of him. Bonus points for the owner being part of the dinner service.
Cleanliness of Venue
I always look at the utensils and table tops when I eat at restaurants because it paints a little story about the cleanliness of their establishment. Kaya Malay Bistro was clean and the tables were spotless.
Value for money
Many of their dishes on the regular menu were priced from $14-22 depending if you ordered the premium seafood dishes. The appetizers were $7-$12 and the desserts were around $7.
The portions of the dishes justified the pricing of their menu.
Although this is a fusion style Malaysian restaurant, I would recommend eating here if you are not expecting authentic Malaysian cuisine.
I do recommend to eat here during their "happy hour" from 5 pm -7 pm every day. Go for the skewers and their drink specials. I will be coming back for the skewers, seafood dishes and of course, their desserts.