A welcome change of pace for diners

Penang offers various Malayasian and Thai food. It is located at 635 Nassau Park Blvd Princeton, N.J., off Route 1 South.By Laura Mortkowitz

Looking for a little spice with dinner? Next to typical American favorites Rita’s Ice and SUBWAY, the distinctly exotic Malaysian and Thai restaurant, Penang, is a welcome change of pace for your palate.

Despite the casual atmosphere, the authentic Asian cuisine served is very spicy and is marked as such. For less adventurous souls there are also a number of items on the menu that aren’t spicy: but where’s the fun in that?

Penang is special because its menu is technically two-in-one. The beginning is Malaysian and includes foods adorned with curry, while the last two pages are labeled as Little Thai.

The menu has popular food such as Thai lettuce wraps, which students can even find at Daly’s, and beef with broccoli that any Chinese restaurant can

For appetizers, Penang offers everything from ordinary dumplings to roti canai (an Indian-style pancake with curried chicken). The Penang satay is a spicier food, but it’s also tame enough for first timers. The five beef skewers — chicken is also an option — are grilled and served with peanut sauce.

I have been to Penang multiple times and have been able to try both the roasted pork fried rice — it’s good, but nothing special — and the Malaysian-style fried rice. This generous portion of spicy rice comes with shrimp, but I
substituted pork. Carrots, string beans, cucumbers and boiled eggs also come cooked in the rice.

The Thai pineapple beef offers a nice mix of sweetness from the fruit and spiciness from the mild curry sauce. Although the dish is delicious, there is too much sauce.

Another tasty entrée is the BBQ roasted pork lo mee. This dish is made of thin egg noodles with pork and vegetables. It is also one of the non-spicy entrees on the menu.

And if the larger-than-average portions somehow didn’t fill you up, the restaurant also offers interesting Asian desserts. There’s fried ice cream and mango pudding, but there is also a black sticky rice with coconut milk, a peanut pancake and two different shaved ices: one with red bean and one with green pea flour strips.

However, Penang isn’t a restaurant for penny-pinchers: a dinner with two entrees and an appetizer will probably run around $30. At least white rice comes free with meals and the wait staff provides speedy service.

Despite the rather pricey dishes, you can eat tasty, authentic foods without actually hopping on a plane and leaving the country.

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