Malaysian heat in a Minnesota winter

Eat Street is where you go for a bit of Uptown’s Bohemian past. The Peninsula restaurant adds a New York twist to this stretch of hipsterdom (what else can you call a block that features an upmarket donut café?) with good, hot Malaysian food. The head chef is apparently from Penang in New York, where I first ate Malaysian. Peninsula on Nicollet is a less elegant space – more cavernous than lush – but absolutely makes up for spartan decor with complex spicing.

The most authentic-sounding parts of the menu are the chef’s specials and the noodle section. Here’s where you find rendang and Singapore-style rice noodles. The other sections nod to Indonesian food (such as nasi goreng) and Thai-style curries. None of my dining companions looked less than delighted at their choices, however. The roti canai was divinely spiced and fragrant with lemongrass – not to be missed! My wide rice noodles with shrimp and squid were delicious and generously portioned. As at all noodle joints, you need to season with extra salt or chilli, and a minor quibble is that these were not on the table. A friend’s beef stirfry was enough for two and apparently very good. Another enjoyed red curry brisket, and a third had beautiful fried tofu squares with peanut sauce. We all left very full and, in some cases, with leftovers. The service could not have been more speedy or smiling.

Deprived of other things to critique, I can say only that this restaurant is not a space in which to linger. The pace of service and lack of atmospheric details like music make you want to head over elsewhere soon after, even if it’s only for a digestive smoke by the door.

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