Seri Malaysia

Restaurant: Seri Malaysia
Cuisine: Malaysian/Halal
Last visited: October 17, 2010
Location: Vancouver, BC (Commercial Drive, Grandview)
Address: 2327 East Hastings Street
Price Range: $10 or less, $10-20

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 5
Service: 3
Ambiance: 1.5
Overall: 5 (Great food outweighs everything)
Additional comments:

  • Locally owned and operated
  • Authentic Malaysian food
  • Popular to Malaysian locals
  • Homemade/Home style
  • Made upon order
  • Halal
  • Very “family run” style
  • Very casual
  • Hole in the wall
  • Budget friendly/Cheap eats
  • Family friendly
  • Cash only
  • Lunch and dinner

**Recommendations: Everything I ordered was delicious, but my favourite was the beef rendang. There’s also a whole fried fish that a lot of Malaysian families were ordering to share… I want to try that.

Seri Malaysia Restaurant is a hole in the wall in Vancouver, BC serving the most authentic and delicious Malaysian food in the city. However my knowledge and familiarity with Malaysian cuisine is limited to a few places in Vancouver (there are only a few places though). On another note I did travel to Malaysia this year and I got a very tiny sample of what the food is like. Based on what I know this place is a foodie find with excellent food that’s also dirt cheap.

It’s actually known as one of the best Malaysian restaurants in Vancouver to the Malaysian community. I had my Malaysian friend take me here so I know it’s to some degree authentic. Almost everyone dining there was also Malaysian so I had high hopes that this was the real deal.

The owner and chef generally makes what he knows he can do really well, so the menu is a bit limited. This is good though because everything I tried ended up being awesome. He actually comes out of the kitchen to greet his customers after last call, so it has that family owned feel that I love. It reminded me of El Inka Deli in a lot of ways, minus the type of cuisine served.

Although it’s a total dive, it’s not one of those hole in the wall places where everything is greasy, served in massive portions and just a bang for your buck. Seri Malaysia actually serves homemade Malaysian food using home style recipes at more than affordable prices and decent sized portions. I honestly have no complaints.

On the table:

Roti Canai – 3.5/6

  • Malaysian puff bread served hot with curry or dhal (2 pieces) $5.50
  • It was served with curry sauce and I don’t remember dhal as an option.
  • It was good, but it didn’t seem like traditional roti canai to me. I can’t have a Malaysian meal without starting off with roti canai as an appetizer though.
  • This one was very oily and buttery and flatter and noticeably flakier than usual. It was almost a cross between tender soft pie crust and very tightly packed layers of buttery phyllo pastry sheets. It was just flatter than usual and almost crispy. I prefer my roti canai nice and fluffy and stretchy. I actually really enjoy it at Bo Laksa King.
  • The curry sauce was thin, as it usually is for roti, but very flavourful with savoury, sweet and spicy notes.

**Kobis Masak Lemak – 4.5/6

  • Cabbage cooked in a coconut curry gravy $8.50
  • This is a sweeter dish if you like sweeter curries. It’s also vegetarian and it’s a great option because they also have slices of tofu puffs (deep fried tofu). Tofu puffs are soft and they have a spongy texture and they absorb and soak up the curry sauce extremely well.
  • The curry sauce is a thinner texture so although it is creamy it’s not actually that rich, but rather light and not oily. I could drink it like soup. It’s made with Taiwanese cabbage so it’s even sweeter and almost like a sweet curry cabbage stew. The cabbage is incredibly soft (a bit overcooked, unless it was supposed to be) and it’s also mixed with red peppers and topped with fresh cilantro and green onions.
  • It’s definitely a meal with rice or great eaten alone as well. I actually dipped my roti canai into this and it was awesome.

**Rendang Lembu or Beef Rendang – 6/6

  • Beef cooked in Rendang curry Small $6 Large $10.50
  • This is one of my favourite Malaysian (some would argue Indonesian) dishes of all time. It’s delicious and it’s hard to find a place that can do it well since it’s so time consuming. It’s tres excellent here and I ordered the small and it’s more than enough for 2 people to share.
  • It’s a hearty and super tender beef stew slow cooked in rich flavours like coconut milk, lemongrass, ginger, cardamom, lime leaves and other aromatics. It’s cooked until all the flavours and liquids are soaked up right back into the meat. Every shred is juicy and infused with flavour and it’s almost like the Malaysian version of  pulled pork, or beef in this case. It’s amazing!
  • The beef pieces are incredibly saucy and bursting with flavour and they just melt in your mouth, but some bigger pieces you have to chew of course. It’s almost like cubes of extremely tender beef brisket, and surprisingly all the meat is lean beef.
  • It’s savoury and slightly spicy and I could taste mostly the lemongrass, ginger and sweetness from the coconut milk. It’s all very warm and aromatic flavours. The only thing is that it was a bit oily, but that’s quite typical of Beef Rendang.
  • I dipped my roti canai into this as well and it was even awesome-er!
  • I tried the Beef Rendang at Prata-Man Singaporean Cuisine in Richmond and it was either the Singaporean version or a butchered Chinese version and it tasted like Chiense beef brisket in curry.
  • The first time I tried Beef Rendang was actually at Kedah House, another great Malaysian restaurant also in Vancouver and it was wonderful there as well.

**Nasi Goreng Ikan Masin – 4.5/6

  • Salted fish fried rice $8.50
  • The fried rice is not greasy, dry or too salty and each grain of rice is separate.
  • I love salted fish, but the taste is a bit acquired. It’s quite pungent and it’s almost like Asian anchovies, but it has a dry texture and salted preserved taste. The flavour is strong but the pieces are  diced up into the fried rice and they come across as small pieces of salty fish jerky. It just makes the dish more aromatic for me and its great when you get salty bites of it.
  • It was savoury with a spicy kick from probably some chili and it was great eaten alone or along with the coconut cabbage curry or Beef Rendang. It’s definitely flavourful enough as is though.

**Mee Goreng Mamak – 5/6

  • Traditional Malay fried noodles with curry flavour. Choice of chicken, beef, or seafood $7.75
  • This is an Indian inspired Malaysian dish.
  • I chose chicken since there was already Beef Rendang on the table. I question how fresh the seafood would be at places like this.
  • Again it wasn’t too greasy, dry, salty or spicy. It tastes very home made and there’s nothing gourmet about it but the flavours are delicious.
  • It tastes very nutty and almost tastes like it’s made with some peanut butter, but it’s not. The nuttiness comes from the Sambal chili paste which is spicy yet nutty. I think there might be some tomato paste and there’s a mild hint of curry to round up all the flavours.
  • There’s also egg and bean sprouts in it for an extra crunch and the combination of nutty, savoury, smoky and spicy is perfect. It’s even better with a squeeze of lime to freshen up the flavours and it adds a slight tang.

Teh Tarik or Teh Terik – 3.5/6

  • Sweetened pulled tea $2.50
  • This traditional and popular Malaysian drink is very good, but because I’ve had it before I’m comparing it to other teh teriks.
  • It’s a sweet, rich and creamy tea made with condensed milk. It’s almost like a hot dessert, but it is tea that does come in a mug. It’s usually enjoyed in the morning or afternoon because the tea is quite strong. In this case I was missing that tea flavour and it wasn’t that strong at all.
  • It was incredibly hot, but also not frothy which it should be.
  • Check out my post on the best Teh Tarik and why it’s called “pulled tea” – I had in Singapore at Nanyang Old Coffee.

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Seri Malaysia on Urbanspoon

30 Comments

  • Crispy Lechon says:

    Someone posted a comment in Chowtimes that Seri is closing down due to lack of business. Not sure if this true.

  • Ryan's mommy says:

    Dang….need to go before it closes. Ryan is sleeping, in my jammies surging the net at 10pm…and this is making me have the midnite munchies.

  • Mijune says:

    @Crispy Lechon – I would be EXTREMELY disappointed if that was the case! They totally looked like they were in full service when I went… and business seemed decent with lots of regulars. I really hope it’s not true!!

    @Ryan’s mommy – lol I love that you come here to satisfy your midnight cravings!! I hope you hit the kitchen as well! I miss you!! I saw Grace today!

  • hamsup says:

    Is this place at the corner of hastings and nanaimo? I’ve seen the store front before but can’t quite piece out the location in my mind. When i am in that area… I am usually at bao chau.. lol

  • Bow says:

    I ate there when it just opened…Seri definitely had growing pains(service was slow, food mediocre), however have noticed that it survived it’s first year already and should return to re-evaluate the food. When I went there there was a trickle of Malay expats trying it out…glad it has cemented a place in their hearts, ‘cos I’m not very impressed by this city’s Malaysian food.

  • Mijune says:

    @hamsup – lol nice name. Yes it is! You have to try it out!

    @Bow – this place is great. So far all the Malaysian ppl who have read this post or seen the tweet for it think it’s the only legit Malaysian place in the city! I think even you’ll like it Bow! :)

  • Gary says:

    Taya and I went here after reading about it online–the food is amazing! Pretty incredible it’s a one man show running the entire restaurant! The satay is good along with their nasi goreng!

    On our second visit he had this door sensor installed that made a siren sound every time someone went in/out of the place.

  • Mijune says:

    Gary – OMG!! I know exactly what you’re talking about!!! That door censor drove me insane! THAT is my only complaint lol. The food on the other hand is fantabulous!

  • Crispy Lechon says:

    fmed confirmed that Seri Malaysia is closing in January. fmed talked to the chef/owner Jamal and he said he is in talks with someone who wants to open a Somali restaurant in January.

  • Mijune says:

    NO!!!!!! This is awful news!!! I better eat there as many times as possible now!!

  • fmed says:

    Make sure to have his cendol!

  • Mijune says:

    @fmed – really?! I’m usually not a huge fan of cendol… but if you say so! I should start a petition for him to stay.

  • Eric says:

    It’s a small petite place but don’t let that fool you. I have heard such great things about this place and really wanted to try it. We ended up ordering the Beef Rendang with rice, Mee Goreng and Roti Canai to share. It was definitely the right decision. The beef was super tender and the overall consistency made the curry similar to a stew. I’ve ordered the same dish at other local Malaysian restaurants, and those were good…but this was GREAT!!! The noodles were delicious and cooked perfectly. Roti was good too, but I didn’t find it as fluffy to my liking.

    I’m sad to hear that they will be closing in January. I had an opportunity to speak with the owner/chef/server after the dust settled and he tells me that he’s been so busy with catering events that he really doesn’t have much time with the restaurant side of things! This doesn’t surprise me after my experience. I’ll definitely make this a new destination for lunch and dinner until it closes its doors.

  • Mijune says:

    @Eric – Hello… Don. LOL! I’m so glad you had a wonderful Seri Malaysian experience! I am in the same bout as you with all your comments. DROOL that beef rendang is to die for. The food is cheap too! So he does catering huh?! Hmmm a Malaysian Christmas dinner anyone? :D Thanks for commenting!

  • John says:

    I’m saddened to hear this place is closing. I only went once but I enjoyed the beef rendang I had and it was inexpensive. For people in the hood who are craving Malaysian food after Seri Malaysia closes there is a newish place down the street called Bo Laksa. They serve various south east Asian dishes, mainly Malaysian dishes and even a Burmese dish which sounded good and I’ll probably get next time I go there. They also have milk/pearl tea. Anyways I hope we can attract more variety to the area as it’s mainly blue-collar diners, pho and Chinese restaurants at the moment.

  • Mijune says:

    @John – Thanks for reminding me John! My post for Bo Laksa King http://www.followmefoodie.com/2010/03/bo-laksa-king/ (it’s at their other location though) You’re right though… there’s lots of eats to explore in that area :)

  • John says:

    They have another restaurant? I didn’t know that. We chatted with the chef and the lady running the place for bit, they seem like super nice people. My wife is from Singapore and she thought it was pretty good and she even gets me to pick up milk tea to go sometimes :P

  • Mijune says:

    @John – lol that’s awesome! Oh she’s Singaporean? What does she think about Prata-Man in Richmond? that’s more Singaporean-Chinese than Malaysian though

  • John says:

    I don’t think she’s been there. She doesn’t usually want to go out for Singaporean/Malaysian because she always says her mom’s is better!

  • My hubby and I had a really strange experience at this place … we LOVE Singaporean/Malaysian and were really excited to try it out. I was pregnant, so ordered my dish “mild” (I wouldn’t normally do this, but I was having the world’s most horrible heartburn!) What I got was LITERALLY noodles in ketchup. It was horrible and the service was bad, but it was about 3 years ago … we felt like there was an assumption that we couldn’t possibly want “actual” Malaysian food, so they’d just give us white-folks ketchup instead … :( Not a good experience, but I’m willing to try it again since it made your 2010 top ten list.

  • Mijune says:

    @Mariam Martin – Oh no!!! that’s AWFUL!!! Oh my I feel so bad for you guys!!! Yes! Please try this place again, and soon too because they’re closing!!! He has too much catering to manage and can’t run the restaurant at the same time. :( I hope you can eat some spice now too! I’m pretty confident you’ll have a great experience this time around b/c every Malaysian person I’ve asked named this as their favourite as well! Thank you for your comments and continuous support for this blog! I appreciate it soooo much!!!

  • Alex L says:

    Hey, my apologies for necroing this post but I just wanted to say that it’s still in business, however Jamel the owner/chef/server/busboy is going back to Malaysia from mid-August to mid-September and will probably re0pen when he gets back if he can still keep the place. Unfortunately it sounds like weekday dinner service is slow and he is considering closing or moving elsewhere. If he closes it would be a pity as I can also vouch for the authenticity of the food since my family’s from Brunei. He actually cooks better than my mom, who’s a pretty darn good cook.

  • Mijune says:

    @Alex L – aww you broke my heart.. I was rooting for him! Have you tried JB Malaysia or Mamak Cafe? Since you know the cuisine I’m curious to know what you think? I guess I better indulge in Seri Malaysia while it’s still there! So sad!! I hate seeing rockstars like this die…. I hope it just relocates.

  • Lili says:

    Hi everybody! do you think it’s a good idea to recommend this place to a local celebrity?
    He just got home from a long tour today and I was wondering if I could recommend this place to him as, you know, a promotion for the good food from Malaysia ;-)
    Also, since Jamal is considering relocating, :-( , is there anymore halal Malaysian food outlet you could recommend? I’m think about visiting Vancouver later this year. Hopefully.
    Thank you so very much.

  • Mijune says:

    @Lili – This place is more of a hole in the wall, so it’s nothing fancy. There’s Anatolia’s Gate which is Turkish and 100% Halal. If you want Malaysian another option is Tamarind Hill in New Westminster, Kedah House in Vancouver or Mamak Cafe in downtown Vancouver. However none of them are “fancy”, so it depends on who you’re trying to impress lol. Thanks for commenting! :)

  • harley says:

    hi mijune, i tried to go here a couple of weeks ago with a friend…paper all over the windows, no signs of moving or renovating. i think this place is done. too bad i’ve always wanted to try it. oh well, there’s always hawkers delight, curry house at yaohan and yls curry bowl :(

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