June 18-24, 2012, has been designated Malaysian Restaurant Week, and three Hartford-area restaurants plus one in New Haven are participating. This event was created by the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation to promote Malaysian restaurants and cuisine in the tri-state area. The restaurants are offering special $20.12 prix-fixe three course menus.
Forbidden City Bistro at 335 Main St., Middletown, CT 06457, offers a matched prix-fixe wine pairing menu (3 oz glasses) for an additional $12.00 and the menu contains suggested pairings by the glass or bottle. You can try specialties like Chow Kuei (pan-fried rice cake with eggs, bean sprout and Chinese chive in spiced soy sauce) or Nyonya Rendang Meat Ball (sautéed beef meatball and eggplant with Nyonya curry sauce) for a first course, followed by Mee Goreng (sautéed lo mein noodles with tomatoes, tofu, string beans and bean sprouts in a sweet and spicy sauce) or Ikan Panggang (white fish filet with curry sambal marinade wrapped in a banana leaf, finished in the oven), and finish with the dessert of the day.
Its sister restaurant, Char Koon at 882 Main St., South Glastonbury, CT 06073, offers the same starters, but the main courses are different and include Sambal Ikan (sautéed flounder filet with eggplant with sambal chili sauce) or Itik Goreng Char Koon 1800dan Ajak Salad (crispy duck confit with Malaysian spicy salad). Dessert is also “of the day” and the wine suggestions are half-price, with no matching prix-fixe wine menu.
The similarly named but unrelated Char Koon 1800 at 144 Albany Turnpike, Canton, CT 06019, doesn’t have its Malaysian Restaurant Week menu online, but you can review their regular offerings.
BenTara Restaurant in the historic district of Ninth Square in New Haven, does have its menu online, with a few more offerings in each category. Starters include the familiar Satay (grilled skewered marinated beef or chicken, compress rice, cucumber slices and coconut peanut sauce), less familiar Roti Chanai (unleavened ghee (clarified butter) thin bread with curry lentil sauce), and familiar-sounding-but-surprising Rojak, a fruit salad of pineapple, cucumber, jicama and tofu but spiked with “haeko” (prawn) paste and belachan, a spicy peanut sauce.
The long list of main course options range from spicy Goreng Pedas (meat, slivered onions, potatoes, asian long beans with house “belachan” sweet hot and spicy sauce) to calm Two Soy which pairs your choice of meats with sweet and salty soy sauces, adding broccoli, slivered onions, long beans and green peppers. You can try something unusual like Kerutuk (meat simmered in a mixture of spices (coriander, fennel seed, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise and chilies) with baby potatoes and coconut milk) or Char Kwey Teow (fried wide-strip rice noodle with meat, sweet and salty soy sauce cabbage, julienne carrots, yu choy, bean sprouts, garlic, shallots, and onions, garnished with crispy fried shallots, green onion disks, and lime), or sample Ayam Percik, the Malasian take on barbeque chicken with coconut, turmeric and lime sauce, plus steamed baby bok choy and grilled tomatoes on the side.
Reservations are highly recommended at all locations, as any Restaurant Week generates unusual crowds. If you cannot sample the special menus this week, many of the items are available on the restaurants’ regular menus so visit when there is less of a crowd and enjoy!