Cheap Eats 2007: Malaysia Kopitiam

The menu, a binder with photographs and descriptions of dishes, may seem like something you’d find in places serving fruity cocktails in coconut shells. But start reading and you realize this is no pu-pu-platter joyride but a serious roster of Malaysian cuisine. It’s also one of the few legitimate bargains in downtown DC.

If owner Leslie Phoon is circulating, get his help assembling a feast from wife Penny’s kitchen. Otherwise, try for a balance of dishes. Roti canai, which pairs a chewy Indian flatbread with a velvety coconut-chicken curry, and spicy tamarind beef with okra and eggplant are good choices among the stews.

Roasted dishes like satay lamb, whole chicken stuffed with Chinese sausage, herbs, and shrimp, and lotus root stuffed with chicken, shrimp, and parsley are ideal for chasing the richness of all the curries.

For a sweet finish, try shaved ice drizzled with red-bean syrup and creamed corn.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.