Overseas Asian – Authentic Malaysian food in Chinatown
**THIS RESTAURANT HAS CLOSED**
I’ve been to Overseas several years ago, but I don’t really remember it being anything special. However, I walk by there all the time and noticed it’s consistently crowded with a local crowd (i.e. Chinese from Chinatown). I decided that I should give it another try as I’ve been looking for a decent Malaysian restaurant in the city for a while after Happy Joy closed down. I went there last weekend with my gf and another friend. It turned out to be a surprisingly good meal, far better than other Malaysian restaurants I’ve been to in Chinatown lately.
The restaurant is in the far eastern part of Chinatown on Canal almost in the Lower Eastside. It’s nicer than most Chinatown restaurants, its clean and looks new with a wooden interior and wooden tables. In the back of the restaurant, they have a small area where they sell various Malaysian / Chinese goods such as instant noodles, white coffee (a famous type of coffee from Ipoh), mooncakes, some Malaysian pastries, chili sauces etc.
The service is fine and the servers are pretty nice. They do speak English if you don’t have anyone who speaks Chinese (they are Cantonese from Malaysia).
On to the food:
Roti canai is a layered pancake that you dip into a spicy curry sauce. It’s very popular in Singapore and Malaysia (used to eat this all the time when I lived there). This was quite good, nice and crispy and tasted freshly cooked, a bit thicker than it should be, but still good. The curry sauce was much better than most of the restaurants I’ve had in the city as it was spicier, had good flavor and the chicken and potatoes in it were quite good. Everyone liked this dish a lot. 7.75/10
Kari Mee (Curry Mee):
Kari mee is a simple spicy coconut curry noodle soup with egg noodles, shrimp, pork, fish cakes, fried tofu, crispy fried tofu skins, bean sprouts and green onions. This version was quite good, much better than the version I had at Taste Good in Elmhurst which was way too coconutty. The broth was very good, spicy, a little bit coconutty, not overly salty and just generally good. All of the ingredients tasted fresh, I particularly liked the crispy fried tofu skins (recommend eating them quickly as they get really mushy quickly). The only real downfall to this dish was the noodles, which were clearly packaged and a bit too mushy. If they had better noodles, this would be a really good dish. Everyone liked it. 7.75/10
Beef rendang is a coconut curry dish where you slowly cook beef in a coconut curry broth until it’s very tender. It’s hard to get right and most places tend to mess it up royally. The version here is pretty decent although not amazing, but better than most places I’ve had in NY though. The curry sauce is good, spicy, good flavor and not too salty. The beef while tender was a bit drier than it should be. My friend really liked it though. Overall, it was a pretty decent dish. 7.25/10
Ipoh Bean Sprouts:
Ipoh bean sprouts is a dish that I like quite a lot, its blanched bean sprouts with soy sauce, sesame oil, green onions and these really small golden fried onions (you fry them for 45 mins). Sounds very mundane, but when you have it done correctly it’s really good. The version here is just okay though. The bean sprouts were fine as were the other ingredients, but I felt the sauce was lacking and seemed to be a bit bland. It needed a bit more salt and a lot more sesame oil (it barely had any sesame oil). 6.75/10
Kang Kan Belachan:
This dish was the winner of the night. Kang kan is kong xin cai in Chinese or water spinach in English. The dish is cooked in a sauce using belachan, which is a fermented shrimp paste that I really like a lot. I absolutely love kang kan belchan and this version was outstanding. The vegetable were cooked perfectly, so they retained a good texture and their flavor. The sauce was excellent, not being overly salty or using too much belachan. This tastes pretty close to what you would get in Singapore or Malaysia. We were all wow’d by this dish. Highly recommend. 8.25/10
Bak Kut Teh:
Bak kut teh is a soup dish that simmers pork ribs in broth of a whole bunch of herbs and spices like black pepper, star anise, cinnamon, cloves, garlic etc for a very long time. In Chinese it translates to meat bone tea (rou gu cha). The result is a broth with a deep meaty peppery flavor that isn’t too heavy, most people usually eat it for breakfast with a you tiao (fried crueller). It’s really good when done right although fairly difficult to find outside of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia etc. Besides the pork ribs it usually contains mushrooms, fried tofu puffs and sometimes vegetables. The version here is okay, nowhere nearly as good as the real version. It was too sweet (shouldn’t really be sweet) and while it had a decent meaty flavor, it wasn’t as flavorful as it should’ve been. I meant it tasted good, but if you’ve had the real deal this pales in comparison. We weren’t expecting much and it was actually probably better than what I was expecting as my expectations were really low. 6.75/10
Hainan chicken is a whole chicken boiled in water flavored with garlic and ginger and then dipped in ice water, so the skin separates from the meat. It’s served either room temperature or slightly chilled. This is one of the most famous dishes in Singapore and one of my favorite dishes, I used to eat it everyday for lunch literally (Tian Tian Hai Nan Ji Fan is my favorite place). It’s normally served with a light chili sauce, a very dark thick and sweet soy sauce and this ginger garlic oil. In the US, the places never seem to give you the soy sauce, which is unfortunate b/c it’s really good. They give you the chili sauce here, which tasted reasonably authentic. The chicken however wasn’t that great, the skin was a bit too gelatinous and the meat was sort of difficult to get off the bone. It was also served too cold. I didn’t like it that much, so it was a bit disappointing. 6.5/10
Hainan Chicken Rice:
This is rice cooked in a chicken stock, looks just like light yellow rice and while it sounds bland, its very flavorful and really good when you put the chili sauce and dark soy sauce on it. It’s unfortunately a difficult dish to get correct, in Singapore it’s usually only specialists who make it. The version here is okay, although far better than most versions in Chinatown which usually range from bad to awful. It’s got a decent flavor although it doesn’t has the great deep flavor you’d get at a good place and isn’t as fluffy as it should be. Decent and will do if you really want Hainan chicken rice. 6.75/10
Sambal Sting Ray:
The waitress recommended this dish. In Singapore, I used to get this dish at this one hawker center all the time and it was another one of my favorite dishes. If you’ve never had sting ray it is similar to skate. The meat is very light tasting white meat that isn’t fishy, it should be very tender if done correctly. The sting rays they use in the US are quite a bit bigger than the ones they use in Singapore, which I think have a better tasting meat, but they are still pretty decent. This was another surprise dish that turned out to be quite good. The meat was very tender and cooked nicely, much better than the version I had at Nyonya and better than the version I had at Taste Good in Elmhurst. The sambal sauce was pretty good, a bit sweet, spicy and had a good flavor from the belachan that was in it. Sambal is a chili paste used in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia etc. Overall, I’d definitely recommend this dish. 7.75/10
This type of coffee is from Ipoh in Malaysia, I’ve had it before in Singapore, but I wasn’t actually sure what the difference was aside from flavor until I looked it up on Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ipoh_white_coffee). It’s got a much lighter flavor than regular coffee, its smoother and much less bitter. It’s mixed with condensed milk. This is the instant version, you simply pour boiling water over the ground mixture of coffee and dried condensed milk. It’s not quite as good as the real version, but tasty nonetheless and I was pretty excited to find them selling it in the back part of the store. I’d recommend buying a pack. 7.75/10
Foh San Mooncakes:
It happens to be mid-autumn festival right now when you eat mooncakes. Foh San is a famous dim sum / mooncake bakery in Ipoh, Malaysia. Ipoh is a mainly Chinese city in Malaysia that is known for having very good food. Several Malaysian places in NY are selling the Foh San brand. They have several different flavors, I tried the Imperial Jade and Durian flavored versions. They are quite good, the lotus paste is also mixed with some coconut milk and pandan leave that I really liked and I liked the flavor better than the traditional version. They both have one egg yolk, which I prefer. The durian version tastes like durian, but you obviously have to like Durian, which a lot of people do not. I’d recommend this brand and this is where I’ve been getting my mooncakes this year. 8.25/10
Overall, an authentic and surprisingly good meal here, much better than other Malaysian restaurants I’ve been to in the Chinatown including my former go to Skyway, which I’ve been pretty disappointed in the last few times I went there. I’ve read some pretty bad reviews on yelp.com about this place, but from what the reviewers said I have a feeling people ordered the wrong dishes b/c they don’t know much about Malaysian food (one person talked about ordering Mapo Tofu). Definitely recommend trying.
49 Canal Street (between Ludlow St & Orchard St)
New York, NY 10002