Our Man Sietsema: 'Fishetarians: Gobble on!'
This week, it's classic Sietsema. Along with the review of Belachan, a Sunset Park Malaysian Cafe, you also get a brief culinary history of the Chinese influence on Malaysia.
This Chinese orientation can be a tremendous advantage: Belachan turns out the city's best Hainanese chicken, a dish named after an island in China's southernmost province. The big bird is slow-poached in pork broth, rendering it plump and tender, and arrives at your table awash in a light soy sauce festively decorated with cukes and scallions. The straightforward cooking method allows the bird's quintessential chicken-ness to shine. You've never had fresher tasting poultry.
But Our Man's biggest raves go towards the fishy. Belachan, after all, is named for the fermented shrimp paste that seems to sneak its way into every other dish. If you're man enough, get the "spicy flavored stingray" (aka skate), which Sietsema -- who is no wimp around a pepper -- describes as "howlingly hot."
6102 Seventh Avenue