NJ Dining: Thai Malay Cafe (CLOSED!)


Note: As predicted, Thai Malay Cafe has joined the pantheon of takeouts that died in Sharon Plaza. 

Thai Malay Cafe
Located in the Sharon Plaza Shopping Center
Abbott Boulevard and Warren Ave
Fort Lee, NJ

Normally I have a backlog of restaurant reviews and photos and I get to them when I have time, usually within a week or so, sometimes more if I am particularly busy. In this case, however, I felt the pressing need to tell you about how wonderful this little take-out restaurant is, because the location it is in is, well… Cursed.

You all know, of course, what I’m talking about. All of us know about certain storefront locations in certain towns where businesses open and close within months, be it due to the poor traffic patters, the dynamics and demographics of the neighborhood, whatever. Thai Malay Cafe happens to be in perhaps one of the worst storefronts in Fort Lee, where there’s been no fewer than four (Lurie tells me there’s been six!) takeout businesses in the last two years. But it wasn’t always that way — Saigon R did a strong business there for about three years until the owner moved to Englewood (and then opened up a second restaurant in Fort Lee, Mo Pho, a few years later) and prior to that, a really good BBQ Chicken place did a brisk business for several years as well. So certainly its not impossible for a place with good food to do well there.

In any case, if you’re looking for “The Real Deal” in terms of Malaysian cuisine, run, do not walk, to Thai Malay Cafe. It’s run by two Malaysian Chinese brothers, one of who cooks (and has cooked at some of the best Thai and Malaysian restaurants in the NY/NJ metro area) and the other who runs the deliveries. There’s one small table that can sit maybe four people, the place has no ambiance whatsover, and if its cold outside, the opening of the front door will let a blast of Arctic freezing air in. Pay no attention — you will not find food like this anywhere else in Bergen County, period.

Storefront on Abbott Ave.

Run, do not walk to the Thai Malay Cafe. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for hardcore Malaysian food.

Tom Yum Goong soup. Nice big juicy shrimps, excellent hot and sour broth.

Malaysian Curry Vegetable Soup. Like the Thai soup Tom Kha, this also has a coconut broth base, but with the addition of a curry and peanut flavoring and a strong chile bite. Vegetables included Asian eggplant, green beans, mushrooms, green pepper, and bamboo shoot.

Fried curry puffs, which contained a spicy chicken and potato filling. These are among the best I have ever had.

Curry Puff Closeup.

Thai Talay Dumplings, which were pan fried and were a Chicken/Apricot combination with other vegetables in it. Another winner.

Steamed Dumplings with Peanut Sauce, which were excellent and guarded closely by Rachel.

Char Kway Teow, a Malaysian variant of the Cantonese dish Chow Fun, but cooked with a sweet and spicy Malaysian soy sauce.

A steamy bowl of lamb rendang, a type of Malay curry.

Belachan Shrimp, sauteed in a spicy fermented shrimp paste. The real deal.

Crispy Pork with Chinese Broccoli

“Too Many Ingredient” rice, also known as Hainanese Rice. The bright yellow color comes from tumeric. This can also be ordered with a whole chicken, as Hainan Chicken Rice.

Coconut Pudding with Mango Sauce, a perfect way to end a spicy Malaysian meal.

Roti Canai Appetizer

Eel Dumplings

Eel Dumpling Closeup

Beef Pad Kaprow, ordered extra spicy

Malay Chicken Curry

Green Curry Fried Rice with Pork

20 Responses to NJ Dining: Thai Malay Cafe (CLOSED!)

  1. Jon says:

    Minor correction. Technically the restaurant is in Fort Lee. If it was a mere 50 feet further south it would be Cliffside Park.

    The location is indeed cursed. Apparently an unscrupulous landlord has managed to fool an unending string of eager restaurateurs with a high rent and a few lies about the history of that location. That doesn’t mean this place can’t succeed, the demographics of the area have improved quite a bit in the past year with the addition of tons of new “rich” condos in the area, but its an uphill battle.

    Normally we’d shrug our shoulders and say “so what, another neighborhood take out place gone”. But the food at this place is not only “sit down quality” as opposed to “take out”, its also “New York City sit-down quality”, and not some crappy neighborhood joint there either.

    Perlow and I have both talked about coming up with some complex rating system which discusses places in terms of how many minutes you’d be willing to drive to eat at a place. The reason its been a difficult system is because sometimes there are intangibles which interfere with a single figure. But this place, except for the issue of ONE cramped table to eat at (and its VERY cramped), rates at being worth a 20+ minute drive easily. Our eating experience (I was there with Jason and Rachel) was literally “100%”, not a single bad dish. Heck, not a single dish which wasn’t either VERY GOOD or EXCELLENT.

  2. Jon says:

    Another minor correction. Apparently the EXACT name of the place is “Thai Malay Cafe II”. There’s a sister restaurant somewhere in Queens.

  3. MJP says:

    It’s closer to me than Penang. My girlfriend and I will do all that we can to make sure these guys NEVER fail. We can’t afford it. ;-;

  4. pbrodsky says:

    I noticed you said “…and the other who runs the deliveries. “. Do they actually del;iver?

  5. jpr54_ says:

    Do they have a website?
    Are they open on Monday’s

  6. I’m pretty sure they are open 7 days. No website as far as I know. The place has only been open 3 weeks.

  7. Cate says:

    “Mo Pho”??! Seriously? That has to be the BEST restaurant name ever.

  8. jd2718 says:

    OK,

    I think this time I am going to try one of your recommendations (not to say I haven’t found the others fascinating, but somehow, I was never moved to go eat — or Miami is too far.)

    Am I getting suckered in by really great photos…? I shouldn’t read your site when I am hungry.

  9. Stan says:

    Stopped by for lunch and to pick up a menu. Got the Pad Kee Mao. Decent flavors but not very spicy (next time I’ll specify spicy). They actually have a lunch menu, $6 for an entry, plus rice and soup (or soda or Thai Ice Tea). I’ll be hitting this place for lunch a lot since I’m only 2 miles away!

    Can’t wait to try a couple of the other items on the menu.

    BTW – Great Blog, really a great resource for us food lovers in Bergen County!

  10. The Belacan shrimp I had was quite spicy, but then again, you can’t really make belacan shrimp mild because the belacan itself is very hot. I think the chef is quite amenable to people asking for modifications, especially if you want things hotter.

  11. b andrews says:

    my family recently dined at the Palisadium buffet the other night (in Cliffside Park). The food was terribly disapoiting – virtually not a single dish my wife, 4 year old daughter or I enjoyed. Plus, when the bill came, it felt like hustled by the 17% tip included in the bill (at a buffet? who tips 17%??).

  12. daniel says:

    In reference to above comments about them being open 7 days, i tried going on a Sunday about 2 weeks ago, the place was closed, lights were off, this was about 7:30. I drove around there a few times because I couldn’t see the damn place.

  13. Helen says:

    No one answers the phone! 201-224-2100

  14. Elmer says:

    Sadly, the place is now out of business. Apparently, they are not getting enough orders/business in the area.

  15. Uly says:

    Yeah, went there to get lunch today and saw the out of business sign. So sad. Their food was quite good.

  16. ChrisPowers says:

    I can’t believe I missed this place. If only I’d found this website sooner. I live 2 minutes from there!!!

  17. Cindy says:

    I had a great time at the Palisadium buffet. I went with a group of 4 and we all found lots of food we liked. If you’re all from the same family, maybe you all have the same tastes. You have to be pretty picky to not like anything at a buffet as extensive as the one at Palisadium. By the way, I always tip 20% with the exception of bad service, then I tip 15%. Tip is not optional, even at a buffet. They fill your drinks and bring you grilled meat, they work for the tip.

  18. Eric says:

    Palisadium buffet is a disaster. Everything is changed now. A different hall (smaller and brighter, no MOOD whatsoever), waiters and waitresses look unhappy and service is pretty bad (17% gratuity is included, so even if service is bad, they get their pay). Some of the food didn’t seem fresh (actually smelled horrible..it was some pork rap…) and when we told the waitress, and the manager, they complained that we are complaining for no reason. We just wanted to tell them that it might have gone bad, but their excuse was that they are cooked fresh everyday…hmm so…they could be keeping the same food they used for LUNCH. Adult- $32.50 weekends. I advise that you don’t go. I’m extremely embarrassed at how disappointing this place is because I am korean myself (half the food there is chinese..-_-)

  19. CTTAS says:

    Closed? Don’t worry. It is more fun and cheaper to cook Malaysian food at home anyway. I get all the easy to prepare and ready to serve ingredients on-line from http://www.asiansupermarket365.com

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