Given the online reviews we’d seen prior to our first visit to Pedas – the newest Malaysian restaurant in Ottawa – we weren’t expecting great things. Reviews had been lukewarm at best. So we were pleasantly surprised when the food turned out to be some of the best Malaysian we’ve had in North America.
Remember, Junkii is from Malaysia, so when we say this is authentic Malaysian cuisine, there’s some authority to back up that claim. The food is representative of several regional styles, including dishes from Klang, Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh (Junkii’s hometown) and Penang. And from the sampling we’ve tried so far (about 8 dishes) it’s mostly done very well. Not sure why the online reviewers were so put off.
We found out the head chef – who is originally from Klang – opened this second location after finding success in NYC. And let’s face it. If a restaurant can make it there, it can make it anywhere…and certainly in Ottawa!
Klang is famous for a delicious soup with a complex broth called Bak Kut teh – and lo and behold, it’s the first item on the menu (sm.$8, Lg.$14). We were so excited to see this. It’s a dish that’s nearly impossible to find in this part of the world. The packaged mixes available at Asian grocers just don’t do it justice. But Pedas’s version was stellar. The pork was tender, the mushrooms just the right texture, and the broth was to die for. We’ll go back again just for the soup!
But thankfully, the other dishes measured up as well. One of the big tests for us was their version of char kway teow ($11) – a fried noodle dish that’s one of Junkii’s favorite comfort foods. While the char kway teow at Pedas wasn’t quite the same as the version we’re used to in Ipoh, the flavor was still great. They might have added a bit more belacan (a shrimp-paste hot sauce) than we’re used to is all.
We also had okra fried in belacan ($10) – and that was very fresh. And the Nyonya Curry Chicken ($12) had some serious flavor as well. We did find the Hokkien noodles ($11) a bit too sweet, but not bad.
I’ve never really taken to Nasi Lemak ($8) – a coconut rice dish served with anchovy sambal (another hot sauce). I’ve always found it too fishy for my taste. But the one at Pedas tones down the fishiness a bit and I actually quite liked their version. Junkii on the other hand found it wasn’t fishy enough. Guess you can’t please everyone.
Like many Asian cuisines, Malaysian food is great for sharing. Go with a group and try a few things out. Make sure to have at least one Roti Chanai ($3) for a starter. It was so light and flaky, and the curry dipping sauce it comes with is delicious.
Junkii was even able to get an Ais Kacang ($5) for dessert – which kind of sounds gross in that it’s shaved ice, palm syrup, corn, red beans, grass jelly, and other sweet stuff like condensed milk. It does look a bit like a dog’s breakfast, but you can’t argue with the flavor.
Malaysian cuisine uses a lot of shrimp paste, but we did ask, and the staff said many of the vegetable dishes can be prepared without it for vegetarians. The owners have put a lot of effort into this restaurant – from the varied menu to the nicely designed interior and friendly staff. We’re gonna head back as often as we can while they’re still open. We fully expect the restaurant to go out of business because Ottawa diners are too timid to try something different. Let’s hope you prove us wrong, Ottawa.
Pedas Malaysian Kitchen
706A Somerset Street West, Ottawa