By J. Davis
A new Malaysian restaurant that recently opened on Prince Street’s Oriental Row is Sentosa. It is long and narrow with modern décor with dark-paneled walls highlighted by silver three-dimensional portraits and good luck plants. There is also a dining room on the second floor. The menu is in English complete with a description of the ingredients.
Our first shared course came from the appetizer section, Roti Canai, described in the menu as crispy pancakes served with a curry chicken potato dipping sauce. It was a disappointment. Although the sheer, pull-apart pancake was fairly crisp, it was too oily. We requested a mild peanut dipping sauce, but we got a chili mix.
The first entrée was a nicely prepared order of beef and ginger with scallions ($9). The stir-fried beef was tender and in acceptably small pieces to be handled with chop sticks (the only utensil offered). It was in a brown sauce with thin slices of ginger and bits of both white and green scallions. Bowls of white, sticky rice accompanied each entrée.
Lamb Rendang, a popular, long-cooked casserole ($10), consisted of lamb chunks prepared with coconut milk, chilies, cinnamon and cloves. The bottom of the bowl is lined with banana leaves and the lamb was tender and slightly spicy. This dish may also be ordered with beef.
The cuisine of Malaysia has been influenced by other ethnic groups including Portuguese, Chinese and Indian. Even a simple vegetarian dish of long string beans is served Malaysian style with spicy shrimp paste and shrimp ($8).
Sentosa offers an extensive listing of fish, including skate, a variety of shrimp as well as clams and squid. Live seafood (crab, lobster and assorted fish) can be cooked to order with a choice of 15 sauces including lemon grass, sweet and sour, black bean, Nyonya and more. Rices are offered with a variety of flavorings including coconut, pineapple, roast pork, seafood and fried.
The service is swift and friendly. Note: The hostess seemed to have the best command of English.
Pots of hot, strong tea are part of the service, but there are a number of popular Malaysian drinks such as fresh young coconut, Malaysian iced tea or iced coffee and a lychee drink.
When it comes to desserts, our long time favorite is Ice Kacang, a towering pile of shaved ice threaded with red beans, kernels of corn, small cubes of colorful gelatin, red rose syrup and coconut milk ($2). You might also want to try Red Bean Ice or Bobo Cha Cha (sweet potatoes and yams with coconut milk).
The Bottom Line
Sentosa is an interesting Malaysian restaurant and is almost as good as a visit to the Malay peninsula itself.
39-07 Prince St.
Cuisine: Authentic Malaysian
Hours: Open 7 days a week 11 a.m.-midnight
Getting There: Two blocks from No. 7 train and buses at Main and Roosevelt. Private parking lot (expensive) across Prince, entrance from 39th Avenue.
Handicap Access: Yes, first floor only.
Credit Cards: Cash only
Beef with Ginger and Scallions…$9
Malaysian Iced Coffee…$2