Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston, MA 02109
With the opening of Pinang, there are now a grand total of two Malaysian restaurants in Boston. More important, there is one more outstanding restaurant in the city. Pinang (not to be confused with nearby Penang) quite simply floored this writer, who was initially unsure what to expect. With a menu that includes items such as intestines, fish heads, and grass jelly, Pinang worried me a bit at first. By the end of dinner, however, it became clear that Faneuil Hall has a winner on its hands.
So what is Malaysian food, you ask? Well, it has some Thai, Indian, Chinese, and Vietnamese influences, but in the end, it is really like no other cuisine. For example, the Roti Telur, which is a pancake filled with egg and onion and served with curry, potatoes, and chicken, takes the best of the aforementioned influences and spins them together to create a unique (and delicious) appetizer. Likewise, the Mee Siam (heavy Thai influence) and the sizzling beef (heavy Chinese influence) seem familiar, but have their own unusual flavors. Even a simple dish like the chicken fried rice has spices that make it one of a kind.
Some places have great food and lousy service or atmosphere; not Pinang. The waitstaff could not be more friendly, and are helpful in describing some of the more eclectic dishes on the menu. And the location...how can you do better than outdoor dining at the end of the north side of the Faneuil Hall Marketplace? It would be tough to come up with a better place to relax with an outstanding meal on a Friday or Saturday night.
If Pinang were to be compared to another dining spot, perhaps the oft-mentioned (and personal favorite) Apsara in Providence would be a candidate. Both restaurants have sprawling menus filled with unusual dishes, and both are inexpensive and little-known. However, Pinang may not be a secret for long; it is a new restaurant in a busy part of Boston, and if people start discovering the incredible quality of the food here, then perhaps the comparison will no longer apply.
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