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New Malaysia

Pia Mileaf-Patel

$15 a person

   I was referred to New Malaysia by a friend of my mom's, who told me that they had the best Singapore shaved ice in the city. She alluded that the restaurant's signage was a little bit misleading, so I don't know exactly what I was expecting, however I guarantee that the food is worth the trek to find the restaurant.

         On The Bowery, there is a blue sign above a covered alley, stating "Malaysia Restaurant" in all caps. My friend Fernanda and I walked past it twice before ducking our heads into the restaurant next to the sign to ask if that was it. "No."

         We peered down the alley. There were two cops standing on either side of a door, and one was on the phone, arguing with her mother. Fernanda and I crept down the alley and tentatively tried the door, which was among an array of windows covered in pictures of food and one sign that said "New Malaysia."

         When we walked in, the dim restaurant was completely full. On the walls, were different prints of vegetables with French writing, and we couldn't figure out what to order from the extensive menu. We asked our (very nice) waitress what pearl noodles were and she told us it was what the table in the corner was eating. So Fernanda ventured over there to ask them what they had on their table. We picked two things they were eating, the pearl noodles and orange crispy beef, and ordered them.

         It was so good. The pearl noodles were thick and chewy, with sauce that included sprouts and crispy pieces of pork and strips of chicken. And the peanut-coated crispy beef was perfect. It even came with some steamed broccoli to masquerade the dish as a healthy one. The portions were big and this was absolutely enough food to share. In fact, we were almost too full to order dessert, but we had to, because that was the reason we had journeyed deep into Chinatown. And thank goodness we did.

         The Singapore shaved ice at New Malaysia is a heaping pile of fluffy snow, drenched in a soda-flavored syrup and topped with drizzled condensed milk. It is on top of a scoop of sweet corn, red beans and various jellies. Eating something fluffy and cold has a cathartic effect after a heavy meal like we had had, but I am absolutely planning on stopping in during the afternoon sometime soon to just grab a shaved ice as a snack. I'm not even inclined to try the other flavors since the classic one was so good.