Exploring strip malls and hole-in-the-wall restaurants in search of the city's best international food

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Toronto's best Malaysian restaurant has a new spin-off

One of the absolute best Southeast Asian restaurants in the Toronto area is Gourmet Malaysia, an oversized dining hall in Scarborough with a massive menu of Malaysian, Indonesian and Singaporean favourites. In September, the owners opened a new spin-off restaurant called Gourmet Satay at 1348 Kennedy Road near Ellesmere Road in Scarborough. 

Owner Amy Lim (centre) with cousin Shuen and son Nikola

The restaurant hasn't even had its official opening yet, but fans of Gourmet Malaysia have noticed the similar sign at this dodgy strip mall on Kennedy and started popping by. The narrow restaurant has many of the same dishes as Gourmet Malaysia, although owner Amy Lim wants to add some specialty "hawker" or street food dishes here soon. A flyer for the new joint describes it as "food court style," meaning it serves dishes sold at bustling South Asian food stall markets. (In fact, it's similar in some respects to Gourmet Malaysia's precursor restaurant, the now closed cult classic Gourmet Garden.)

The dishes at Gourmet Satay are carefully prepared and packed with flavour. The satay doesn't taste like globs of peanut butter, but instead is made of fresh crushed peanuts and a surprising amount of spice. 

Nasi lemak (below) is an eye pleasing dish that offers a sampling of the wide range of flavours in Malaysian cooking. A mound of coconut-sweetened rice is surrounded by rich curry-leaf infused chicken, sweet shrimp, a fried egg and a punchy garnish of dried anchovies and peanuts, all for just $8.80.

Nasi goreng (below) is a Malaysian classic, consisting of rice fried in thick, sweet soy sauce (kecap manis) and densely packed with veggies and seafood.

Amy opened this restaurant so she can use the kitchen to supply labour intensive desserts like pineapple tarts and layer cakes for events at Gourmet Malaysia. She also plans on taking advantage of the space to store freezers full of imported goods from Malaysia.

And the restaurant's hours? Well, hard to say exactly. As a blogger specializing in strip mall food I've been to an awful lot of plazas but this is definitely one of the sketchiest I've seen, with a porn shop, late night reggae bar, various massage parlours and many suspicious looking dudes sitting in parked cars in the evening. 

"Some customers don't like the area," says Amy. She originally planned to be open until 9pm but has gradually moved to closing earlier and earlier, so if you want to stop by before 5pm give a call first and ask if the restaurant is open. But let me assure you, these wonderful Malaysian dishes make the trip more than worth while. 

Gourmet Satay is located at 1348 Kennedy Road, Scarborough, Ontario. Call for hours at 647 741 2468. 

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