Kaya Malay Bistro takes Banana Leaf to the next level. After posting the dinner from Banana Leaf on Instagram, I was recommend to try Kaya. You know what? I visited Kaya two days after Banana Leaf and I am far more happier with the service, food quality, and comfortable seating. When I left, my stomach was happy, I was happy, and throughout dinner I was able to see all my dishes. Kaya appears to be a husband and wife combo management team, the wife oversees the front of the house and service, and the husband controls and oversees the kitchen, and quality of food control.
Coming on a Monday rainy night, the restaurant was not very busy but they had a few seated tables and pick up orders. The interior of the restaurant has bright colored walls, dark tables and chairs, half booth seating along the wall, and a high ceiling painted black.
FRESH YOUNG COCONUT, ROTI CANAI, SATAYS, SEAFOOD PINEAPPLE FRIED RICE, MINI SOFT SHELL CRAB, JUMBO KING PRAWN IN MALAYSIAN KAM HEONG SAUCE, RENDANG BEEF, HAINAN CHICKEN, MINI STEAMED MUSSELS, AND NYONYA STYLE HOT AND SOUR SOUP.
FRESH YOUNG COCONUT ($5.00). One of the coconuts were too old so the coconut meat couldn't be scraped off, but oh well, since the restaurant cannot tell and it's not a big deal.
MINI STEAMED MUSSELS, WEST COAST MUSSELS IN COCONUT, FENNEL, CUMIN AND GINGER GARLIC SAUCE ($9.50). Mini sized mussels? Naa, these are half orders and I like the option. The mussels are a bit small, slightly overcooked, and the broth tastes too overwhelming. The broth has a salted chicken heavy fennel taste that does not only take the taste away from the mussels, but it also tastes too strong and not tasty at all. This is the only dish we did not enjoy, and when the manager asked at the end of the meal we mentioned this as helpful feedback. Her response was that the mussels are dry and cannot be juicy because they aren't in season. I felt kind of bad thinking to myself that I almost ate mussels everyday this week and none of them were dry, and they were juicy.
NYONYA STYLE HOT AND SOUR SOUP. A CHINESE, MALAYSIAN TWIST ON TRADITIONAL HOT AND SOUR "BABA-NTONYA STYLE" SOUP ($6.00). The soup has a strong fresh tomato sour broth taste (fresh sourness from the tomato) and comes with three mussels, two prawns, and two basa fish slices.
CHARCOAL GRILLED MARINATED SKEWERS WITH A SPICY PEANUT DIP. BEEF, CHICKEN, AND LAMB ($1.60/SKEWER). The peanut dip has a creamy peanut taste with tiny bits of peanuts and tastes slightly sweet. The beef skewers taste tender, has a heavy marinade, and tastes good. The chicken skewers are extremely tender and has a light flavourful marinade, this was our favourite. The lamb skewers are chewy compared to the beef and chicken, has a stronger flavourful marinade than the chicken, and does not taste too gamy. The only issue is that we ordered two of each, not three of each. Kaya's skewers and peanut sauce are definitely a lot better than Banana Leaf's.
MINI SOFT SHELL CRAB, CRISPY SOFT SHELL CRAB SAUTEED IN FRESH ONION, GINGER AND SHALLOT WITH MILD CHILI AND FRESH INDIAN BLACK PEPPER ($9.50). The soft shell crab is lightly battered, has a light crisp on the outside and tastes moist on the inside. The seasoning has an extremely light salt and pepper taste. This is how every restaurant should make soft shell crab, seriously (not the crunchy, hard, and heavy batter ones I have tasted numerous times). The soft shell crab is pretty much perfect.
ROTI CANAI, HAND ROLLED LAYERED FLAT BREAD WITH CURRY SAUCE, 2 PIECES ($6.50). The curry sauce has a milky texture and tasty milky coconut curry taste, definitely not watered down (Banana Leaf). The roti has a light crisp on the outside with soft flaky layers on the inside and, is perfectly properly made.
JUMBO KING PRAWN IN MALAYSIAN KAM HEONG SAUCE, A SPICY FRAGRANT SAUCE WITH SHALLOTS, GINGER, AND LEMON GRASS. 3 PIECES ($21.00). I was hesitant on ordering the king prawns because it was not very good at Banana Leaf (no taste, bland, nothing special, pricey) but I thought I should order these to compare and I am happy I did. The king prawns are tender, moist, and juicy.. JUICY. Yeah, I did not know these can even be juicy! The prawns also have the natural king prawn taste which I did not know was even possible. I thought because the prawns are previously frozen there would be no natural taste of the king prawns but nope, that is not the case and only happened at Banana Leaf. The prawns have the natural king prawn taste as well as a hint of pepper. There are three pieces for $21.00 which is $1.00 pricier than Banana Leaf. But... the dish comes with three pieces rather than two! Plus, it tastes a lot better. A lot better.
RENDANG BEEF, TENDER BEEF STEWED IN COCONUT GRAVY AND LEMONGRASS ($15.00). When looking through the meat dishes we asked the waitress what she recommended, her response, "the rendang beef, it's soooo good, you have to try it, I guarantee." Okay, sold. The beef tastes extremely tender and has a rich flavourful curry taste with a hint of spiciness. The potatoes are perfectly soft as well. At this point I really thought wow, everything tastes really good (except the mussels).
HAINANESE CHICKEN, STEAMED BONELESS CHILLED CHICKEN SERVED WITH PEANUTS, GINGER, CHILI AND GARLIC SPICY SAUCE ($8.00). The hainan chicken tastes like hainan chicken, doesn't it always taste like that? Clearly not (Banana Leaf). The chicken has a real free range chicken breast meat tenderness and is not mushy at all. The hot sauce is a nice chili sauce and the ginger sauce actually tastes like ginger. Again, I am not trying to sound crazy but surprisingly some sauces can taste bland (Banana Leaf). The only complaint which is kind of meaningless is that I did not see any peanuts in the dish, only mentioning because it says that on the menu.
SEAFOOD FRIED RICE IN PINEAPPLE BOAT, FRIED RICE MIXED WITH SEAFOOD, EGG, RAISIN, AND SUNFLOWER SEEDS ($13.50). The rice has a light curry pineapple taste and would have tasted better if it was slightly saltier, not a big deal. The fried rice has a nice golden yellow color and a proper amount of pineapple, unlike Banana Leaf. Every spoon has at least one piece of pineapple.
The bill comes in a wooden square box and they are currently giving 10% off discount cards for next visits.
- Friendly, attentive, and professional service (I do have to mention that we were one of the only three tables in the restaurant and the other tables were finished eating when we got there)
- Dishes are above average
- Only ordered two orders of each skewer but waitress wrote down three
- Seafood needs to be ordered a day in advance since they do not have a seafood tank. This is kind of a disappointment for impulse diners but I understand (I really wanted to order the crab to compare with Banana Leaf's)
- Meter parking $2.00/40 minutes
- Dishes taste a lot better than Banana Leaf, do yourself a favour and walk here instead