Last Saturday, we braved the elements: rain, gloomy clouds, NYC traffic, as well as, unknown to us, an impending stomach virus to attend the 34th Annual Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Festival and based on our experience, it was well worth it!
The festival was held at Confucius Plaza in Chinatown, but as we drove by there was very little activity going on. Was the festival cancelled? I started to think we were either not at Confucius Plaza and lost or worse that the festival was cancelled due to inclement weather. But it was lightly raining, not a downpour. Right when I was about to give up, I walked deeper into the plaza to discover directional signs leading to an indoor festival area! Yeah!
The dead silence that existed outside in the plaza was in stark contrast to the bustle inside what appeared to be a school auditorium. Throngs of people walked up and down aisles of long tables set up as informational booths for organizations such as AsianinNY, Rubin Art Museum and Japan Society. There was an exhibit in the back of the room about the Chinese Exclusion Laws of 1882 that I found very interesting. I didn’t realize that Chinese and other Asian immigrants faced discrimination and were wrongly targeted based on race or ethnicity. Their experience was reminiscent of what African Americans endured during that same time in the United States. In the background, on the auditorium stage, were various cultural, dance and music performances. Some of my favorites were the Brazillian Jazz Fusion group Ya Han Chang and the Taiwanese nose flute performance.
The festival was so great, I temporarily forgot about the aches and pains that I was experiencing earlier in the day! Next stop, New Malaysia Restaurant also in Chinatown. The restaurant was literally across the street from the festival…great because we were starving!
It was hard to believe that a contemporary, clean and nicely decorated restaurant such as New Malaysia Restaurant existed down, what appeared at first glance, to be a rather dark and dank alley. As many have admonished me: don’t judge a book by its cover. This restaurant had a very memorable bathroom too: it was clean and orderly. That’s not always a guarantee in a busy NYC venue.
I’d never had Malaysian cuisine so I had to do my research. Malaysian food is diverse and representative of the vast cultures that exist in Malaysia: Malay, Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern and Thai. To no surprise, my appetizer at New Malaysia Restaurant: roti with a vegetable curry dipping sauce, an Indian staple. It tasted great and the roti (or unleavened, flaky flat bread) was perfect. Next, my husband ordered as his main dish orange beef with rice. I had the Hainanese Chicken Noodle Soup. I kept it simple in anticipation of an impending illness. Everything tasted great. My husband, who in my opinion is very picky with food, was satisfied. I throughly enjoyed the clean and fresh taste of the soup; there was broccoli rabe, white chicken breast meat, chicken broth and udon noodles. Though not an exciting dish, it really hit the spot and met my needs. Next, it was time to leave and head home, but here are some additional pointers about the restaurant:
1) When you enter the alley for the restaurant, look for number 28 to be posted on the restaurant’s front window. This is the physical address of the restaurant after you turn down the alley. This was a little confusing to me.
2) Lastly, the name of the restaurant appears slightly different in different places. On the net, it’s referred to as New Malaysia Restaurant, but at the physical location, it’s called West New Malaysia Restaurant. They’re one in the same.
Global from Home…..
I’d like to start this section by screaming excitedly and proudly that I made my very first tuna ceviche! I know, a small feat, but this was new territory for me. Making raw fish taste like an actual meal with such a sophisticated dish is intimidating! I followed the Poisson Cru recipe to a tee and everything tasted great. I was a little apprehensive about using coconut cream (in my case coconut milk) with fish, but it added a subtle hint of sweet to the dish.
I also roasted Sweet Potato Wedges, or Kumara as per New Zealanders. This recipe provided an interesting twist to eating sweet potatoes and is great if you’re looking for an easy sweet potato fries recipe.
Well, I hope that you enjoyed this Culture Weekend Staycation Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in NYC! Please feel free to share your experience.
Also, stay tuned for our June Culture Weekend Staycation Destinations! Who knows where in the world we’ll travel next?
To learn more about Culture Weekend Staycations, read this.