Optimistically Cautious

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Spicy and Pricey: Tropika

I finally made my way down to the south side Tropika (6004 104 Street) on Wednesday with Dickson, spurred on by a coupon I had on hand. I had heard that the food was good but pricey, so a discounted meal was a definite encouragement to try their version of Malaysian cuisine. pricey

As opposed to many Asian restaurants, the purveyors of Tropika attempted to cobble together an actual decor scheme. Unfortunately, the unfinished wood panelling on the ceiling reminded me more of the plywood Contiki village cabins than a "rustic" South Asian establishment.

Upon being seated, I showed the coupon I had clipped from a local flyer to our waitress, as the print on the slip indicated that it had to be surrendered before ordering. She asked if I had the rest of the flyer, but I did not, and even though the address and phone number of the restaurant was apparent, without the word "Tropika" on it, she was hesitant to accept it without asking her manager first. Though this wasn't a major inconvenience (they accepted it in the end), it didn't exactly start off our meal on the best note.

Service aside, I was extremely impressed with the full-color, coil-bound menus. The pictures were gorgeous (especially compared with the out-of-focus, yellowed photos on the menus at Kyoto), and for those who are not familiar with Malaysian dishes, provide a visual trial to encourage gastronomic experimentation. We opted for an order of Roti Canai (a thin, pan-fried bread) to start, and for the heart of the meal, Nasi Goreng (a type of fried rice), Sayur Lemak Hot Pot (a seafood curry) and Pad Thai.

We ended up with a lot more food than the two of us could eat, and really, most of it was too spicy for us to eat (at no fault of the chef). I was pleasantly surprised at the liberal amount of seafood that presented itself in each dish. The Nasi Goreng was my favorite by far, if not only because it was the mildest of the three, but the Roti was quite tasty as well, and worked well with the curry sauce from the hot pot. Service was spotty throughout the night (I wished for more water on more than one instance), but improved once the frugal waitress was replaced by another server.

Even with the coupon, the meal worked out to about $18 per person, still rather expensive for Asian food in general. But with leftovers that served me well for lunch the next day, I couldn't complain much.


Roti Canai

Nasi Goreng (a lot better than the photo makes the dish look)

Sayur Lemak

Pad Thai

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