33370 South Fraser Way, Abbotsford
604 557 9857
After pulling into the parking lot of Penang Szechuan, there was the gnawing feeling that ours would be the only table filled. However, this probably had more to do with the fact that it was Game 5, and less to do with any reflection on the restaurant itself. It takes up residence in a little detached building on South Fraser Way just west of Five Corners that used to house a number of other restaurants that have now moved on. The façade echoes something in the realm of a Spanish villa, but the cuisine is a combination of Malaysian and Chinese.
Even though it’s a tiny little space, the waitress’s friendly welcome made us feel right at home. The restaurant offers eat-in, with about ten tables in the noticeably one-room restaurant, as well as delivery and take-out. With such a small space, it is assumed a level of awkwardness would arise when two parties are right next to each other. On this particular Friday night, however, this was not the case. After a gentleman in the apartment across the street blared his air horn, someone at my table felt the need to purchase a live NHL app on her Blackberry while the waitress and the family next to us all periodically listened in; which made for a rare occasion of restaurant camaraderie.
With Malaysian cooking, the appetizer of roti canai is usually the main event, but instead of a doughy treat with a bowl of thick dip, we got a flakier, greasier version with a bowl of dipping sauce. It still had a good amount of flavour, especially with the not-too-spicy homemade coconut curry, but the textures were unexpected.
The menu offers a large selection of everything from pork to beef, poultry to seafood, and everything in between. The ginger and onion beef was tender and well flavoured. The coconut curry prawn dish and the coconut curry chicken were delicious and full of just the right curry kick that satisfies without burning. The honey garlic boneless pork was also tasty, but since it was battered and fried, it felt heavy while the other dishes were quite light.
All of the vegetables were cooked to the perfect consistency of not too soft and not too crunchy, and they did not overpower the large amount of meat in the meals. Some restaurants hold back on the meat portions in their dishes to save money, but not Penang Szechuan. You definitely get what you pay for. The only rice they have is white and it has to be ordered separately, but with the size of the portions, the meals could have done without.
For a little spot tucked away between a dojo and BCAA, this little eatery offers Abbotsfordians a nice Malaysian place this side of the Port Mann. Even though some of the dishes were not what I expected, the service of the staff was rather enjoyable. Our waitress was smiling, involved, and attentive and shared in the joy of a good game. However, if you’re craving a meal for one, it might be less awkward to order out rather than eat-in.