Tonight was the first night Sarah got to eat outside the house. She was prevented from eating out by some ancient Chinese custom that says a new mom can’t go out until after the new born baby is one month old. Today, Sally is one month and one day old so I decided to take the family to Tropika for dinner.
Since 1990, Tropika has remained the most popular Malaysian/Thai restaurant in Vancouver, receiving many distinguished awards such as Best Other Asian Restaurant, Golden Plate Award and Most Memorable Restaurant. Tropika has three locations in the lower mainland. We went to the one at the Aberdeen Centre mall, which happens to be just 10 minutes from our house.
The first thing you will discover when dining at a Malaysian restaurant is they do not use knives. Instead, you get a very strong spoon and fork set that can double as a knife. It won’t cut a steak but it will go through any Malay dishes you’re likely to order.
This is not the first time we have dined to Tropika. We have ate there many times for lunch but this will be the first time we would be having dinner. As it turns out, dinner at Tropika is the same as lunch – the menu doesn’t change. That is fine by me because lunch at Tropika is damn good. Here’s what we had.
Chicken, Beef & Pork Satays and Roti Canai
The beef, chicken and pork satays are served with a custom made peanut sauce that is a lot crunchier than any other peanut sauce I’ve tried. There is also a sprinkling of cucumber and pineapple for decoration.
The Roti Canai is Malay bread. It looks a lot like East Indian Naan but it tastes a lot better. To give the bread a little kick, a spice mixture made of red stuff (I don’t know what’s in it) is included. If you ever go to a Malaysian restaurant, you simply must try some Roti Canai.
The K.L. Crab is Tropika’s signature dish. This is one of the best crab dishes I have ever tried. The crab is coated with a spicy yet aromatic, crushed and dried shrimp sauce. The crab is fried at such a high temperature that the shell becomes brittle and can be cracked without the use of a craw breaker. The meat inside remains tender and moist and will bring a smile to your face when you eat it.
In case you’re wondering, K.L. stands for Kuala Lumpur.
Coconut Seafood Fried Rice
The last time we were at Tropika, we ordered pineapple fried rice with ham and chicken, and it came in a pineapple shell. Therefore, it was not surprising that coconut seafood fried rice came in a coconut shell. I can definitely taste the coconut but the coconut sauce on top of the rice overpowered the seafood. The rice was nice and tender however.
Sambal Sotong Kang-Kong ( Tung Choi )
Tung Choi is popular vegetable used in Chinese cooking. This is the first time I had the Malay version of this dish. The seasoning is different and they cooked it with squids. It was good but I prefer the Chinese version more.
Hainanese Chicken is another Tropika signature dish and I can understand why it would be. The chicken was fantastic! The Chinese version of Hainanese Chicken has nothing on the Malaysian version. This is a must order dish at Tropika.
K.L. Pork Chop
The K.L. Pork Chop was another great dish. The pork was extremely tender on the inside, yet the outside had a very nice crunch thanks to the deep-frying. The liberal use of roasted garlic, which tasted damn good all by themselves, helped to bring out the flavor of the pork.
Before anyone says anything, this is not a girly drink! It’s not even a drink, it’s a dessert. The Cendol is very sweet, tropical and refreshing. Just don’t ask the waiter what’s in it.
Goreng Pisang is a deep fried banana dessert. The hot bananas are balanced with cold ice cream and whip cream. It’s kind a like the Malay version of the banana split. I’m not crazy about it but Sarah loves it.
Dinner at Tropika is extremely reasonable. The bill for the six of us came to just $145.00 with tips. A downside to Tropika is they don’t take Visa or Interact. You have to use either cash, MasterCard or Amex. I found all this out after we got the bill. Good thing I had enough cash on me.