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. And You know what? I visited Kaya two days after Banana Leaf and am far more happier with the service, food quality and comfortable seating arrangements. When I left the restaurant, my stomach was happy, I was happy, and throughout dinner I was able to see all of my food.
The restaurant appears to be a husband and wife combo management team; where the wife oversees the front of the house and the husband controls and oversees the kitchen. Arriving on a Monday raining evening, the restaurant was not very busy but there were a few seated tables and take out orders. The interior of the restaurant has bright colored walls, dark tables and chairs, half booth seating arrangements along the wall, and a high ceiling painted black.
FRESH YOUNG COCONUT ($5.00).
One of the coconuts are too old so the meat could not have been scrapped off, but not like it is the restaurant's fault.
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 that the option is available! As for the taste, the mussels are fairly small, slightly overcooked and the broth tastes overwhelming. The broth has a salted chicken along with heavy fennel flavour which does not only overwhelm the mussels, but also tastes fairly strong and not good. When the manager asked how the dinner was at the end, we mentioned the aforementioned issues as helpful feedback. Her response was that the mussels are dry and cannot be juicy because the seafood is not in season. I felt kind of bad thinking I almost ate mussels everyday this week, none of them tasted dry and were juicy... lol.
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 tartness and includes three mussels, a couple of prawns and basa fish slices.
CHARCOAL GRILLED MARINATED SKEWERS WITH A SPICY PEANUT DIP. BEEF, CHICKEN, AND LAMB ($1.60/SKEWER).
The peanut dip tastes creamy, has a hint of sweetness, and there are tiny bits of crushed peanuts. Starting with the beef satays, the meat tastes tender, has a heavy marinade and tastes great. Following, the chicken satays taste extremely tender, have a light tasty marinade and is our favourite. Up last, the lamb satays are chewy compared to the beef and chicken, have a stronger and tastier marinade compared to the chicken, and does not taste too gamey. The only issue is that we ordered two of each and not three. Regardless, Kaya's satays 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 with a light crisp interior and tastes moist. Furthermore, there is a very light salt n' pepper seasoning flavour. This is how every restaurant should serve soft shell crab, honestly. Not the hard, crunchy and heavily battered ones we have had so many 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 along with a rich milky coconut curry flavour, definitely not watered down (like Banana Leaf's). As for the roti, there is a light crisp exterior and soft, flaky layers. Perfectly done.
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 they were not very good at Banana Leaf (bland and nothing special) and the prawns ain't cheap. However, I thought I should order these for comparison purposes and am happy I did! The king prawns taste tender, moist and juicy… JUICY.
In addition, the prawns also have that natural flavour which I did not know was even possible. I thought because the prawns are perviously frozen, there would be no natural taste. But nope, this is not the case here and only happened at Banana Leaf. Furthermore, there are three prawns for $21.00 which is $1.00 pricier than Banana Leaf. But... the dish comes with three pieces rather than two! Plus, the prawns taste a lot better. A lot better.
RENDANG BEEF, TENDER BEEF STEWED IN COCONUT GRAVY AND LEMONGRASS ($15.00).
When browsing through the meat dishes, we asked the waitress for a recommendation. 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, along with ah int of spiciness. In addition, the potatoes are perfectly soft as well. At this point throughout dinner, 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, but doesn't it always taste like that? Clearly not (Banana Leaf). The chicken has a real free range chicken white meat tenderness and does not taste mushy one bit. Furthermore, the ginger sauce tastes rich and actually like a ginger sauce. Again, I am not trying to sound crazy but surprisingly some sauces taste bland (Banana Leaf). The only complaint which is kind of meaningless, is that the peanuts were missing but we were okay with that.
SEAFOOD FRIED RICE IN PINEAPPLE BOAT, FRIED RICE MIXED WITH SEAFOOD, EGG, RAISIN, AND SUNFLOWER SEEDS ($13.50).
The rice has a light curry and pineapple flavour, but could have tasted slightly saltier. In addition, there is a nice golden yellow color and a proper amount of pineapple (unlike Banana Leaf's). Every spoon has at least one piece of pineapple and the ingredients are properly fused together.
The bill comes in a cute wooden square box and the restaurant is currently giving 10% off discount cards for the next visit!
Kaya Malay Bistro serves above average food and is one of the better Malaysian restaurants I have tried. Furthermore, the staff is attentive, friendly and professional. Although I do have to mention that we were one of the only three tables in the restaurant and the other tables were finished eating by the time we arrived. Regardless, the staff and owner is truly genuine and nice people.
- Attentive and friendly service
- Mussels are overcooked
- Only ordered two satays per kind, but waitress wrote down three (which was fine)
- Seafood needs to be ordered a day in advance since there is no seafood tank. This is kind of a disappointment for impulse diners like us, but I understand (I really wanted to order the crab to compare with Banana Leaf's too!)
- Better than Banana Leaf, do yourself a favour and walk here instead