As many C+M readers know, I’m a big fan of late night and early a.m. kari laksa runs to Flushing’s Curry Leaves. For years the spicy coconut-enriched soup bobbing with all manner of wontons and fish cakes was the only Malaysian soup I tried. Lately though I’ve come to appreciated kari laksa’s sour sister, asam laksa.
My favorite place for this bracing bowl of tamarind-infused broth brimming with flaked mackerel is a joint called Pulau Pinang located in an Elmhurst strip mall. And my favorite time to slurp the broth and broad rice noodles is when the weather feels most like Malaysia, super humid and super hot. Thus last week I sought—and found—relief in the vibrant lemongrass and tamarind-scnted bowl topped with pineapple and singing with chili heat and unabashedly fishy mackerel.
For dessert I had a bowl of ice kacang, a classic shaved ice concoction. Like all good shaved ice, it’s a riot of textures, colors and flavors: slippery black herbal jelly, chewy pearlescent palm seeds, sweet corn, green gelatin, sweet red beans, and crunchy roasted penauts.
When I told a Malaysian friend about my lunch she responded that it was a classic combination that she’d often had back home. As in Pinang, so in Elmhurst.
Pulau Pinang, 82-84 Broadway, Elmhurst, 718-672-7380