Belachan Restaurant's Penang Lobak
Although there are several Malaysian restaurants in Sunset Park's Chinatown, Belachan is probably the most worthwhile. When Robert Sietsema favorably reviewed Belachan in 2007, he pronounced that the dishes "smack you upside the head with the intensity of their flavors." This weekend, we got knocked around by the restaurant's seriously hefty Penang lobak: a mess of wonderfully crisp fried morsels.
Left: century egg; Front: shrimp fritters; Middle: bean-curd-wrapped pork; Far back: Fried tofu
The word "lobak" refers both to a composed dish of various fried goods, and specifically to the spiced pork rolls in bean-curd wrappers that usually have pride of place on the plate. The rolls are sizzled in oil until golden and blistered, sliced into pieces, and served with a sweet soy sauce and sambal. In Malaysia, Lobak is often served from street stalls, where you can choose your poison from a number of crunchy items.
Belachan makes a lobak platter of their rich, sausage-like lobak (the bean-curd/pork rolls), fried shrimp fritters, fried tofu, and a gelatinous, blackened century egg. The shrimp bits resemble savory, burnished brittle studded with head-on crustaceans, caught like a bugs in amber. It's all fried to order, delicious and practically greaseless.
The plate costs $7.95 and is enough to put at least two people on their backs for the rest of the day.
6102 Seventh Avenue, Brooklyn