208 Grand Street (bet. Bedford and Driggs Aves)
Brooklyn, New York 11211
Our Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ Great
Cards: all major
Price: Average entree $15
Hours: Daily 3pm-midnight with weekend Brunch
Brunch: Yes, weekends
Booze: None (licence pending)
Subway: L to Bedford Ave
Menu: click here
Bedford and Bowery says:
The dishes here are mostly Malay classics with unique twists: the chili crab, for instance, is made with a soft-shell rather than hard-shell crab, and the Hainanese chicken rice is made with crispy rather than steamed chicken. Though the food isn’t knock-your-socks-off spicy, says Mehta, the Nasi Lemak will have you reaching for one of the place’s herb-packed “holistic” Chinese drinks, or a cooling soymilk and grass jelly drink named Michael Jackson for its black-and-white color.
“If it’s not a good one, you’re not sweating,” says Mehta of Malaysia’s national dish, a combination of coconut rice, pandan leaves, pickled vegetables and house-made anchovy sambal.
Aside from a few placards advertising that item and others, the 60-seat dining room isn’t heavily modeled after Panang’s celebrated night markets, where individual stalls surround a food court.
Village Voice says:
“At Pasar Malam, I want to educate people what Malaysian food is about,” explains the owner, a native of New Dehli who got into the restaurant business in the States after getting his degree from Parsons and getting married. “If you like Indian food, Thai food, and Chinese food, you will love this food — it’s a little bit of everything. It’s these cultures coming together and supporting each other.”
His board here includes staples like nasi lemak, a blend of coconut rice and fresh pandan leaves served with pickled vegetables and anchovy sambal, and a traditional Hainanese chicken rice dish he’s upgrading by using fried chicken (instead of the more common boiled poultry) and topping with chili sauce. On weekends, you’ll find the rambly burger, one of Malaysia’s most popular fast food dishes for which a patty is wrapped with an egg and then topped with cheese, cabbage, and mayo. “It’s a big thing in markets,” Mehta says. “This is what Malaysians usually order. I’ve limited it to the weekends because I want people to crave it.”
The restaurant also has a house-made roti menu, some of which are served with savory toppings, like spicy curry sauce, and some of which are spread with sweet treats like kaya jam, a coconut egg jelly that boasts the flavor profile of decadent French toast. In an effort to get New Yorkers to try roti, the chef has also incorporated more familiar flavors, like one with peanut butter and banana.