Belacan Grill Malaysian Bistro
Average cost: $$
Parking: ample parking in the Enderle Center parking lot
Notes: incredible flavors and spices to dazzle your palate but not break your wallet, and a large enough menu for you to come back time and time again and still experience new dishes
Recommended: whenever you have a craving for bold, Malaysian flavors and spices, and want to take some leftovers home with you too
* I recently learned that the restaurant name is not pronounced bell-uh-can, but more like bla-chan, but that would make writing the title trickier...
Belacan was a comfortingly delicious takeout staple for us during the pandemic, and now that we're able to dine in, those wok-fresh flavors are simply the best, and we really enjoy the fact that this family owned and operated restaurant has wonderful service and fun folks (like Natalie and Kim) who provide excellent recs. We've been back several times now, so I'll be sharing a much larger variety of dishes in this post. We always leave completely stuffed and with leftovers in hand, but we did learn that while most dishes reheat well, the Hainan Chicken Rice is best consumed onsite, as there's something about the fattiness of the rice that doesn't reheat well and causes the texture to harden.
First up on our must-try entrée list is the Crispy Curry Leaf Shrimp, which is fried to perfection with fragrant curry leaves, bell peppers, onions, and jalapeños. This shrimp dish is an aromatic flavor explosion in your mouth with a delightfully crispy texture, and not too spicy. You'll be asked if you want shell on or off; we get this dish with shell off, and it always comes out perfectly cooked.
If you're a fan of noodles, you just might fall in love with the Wat Tan Hor: chewy flat rice noodles smothered in a thick and decadent egg gravy that will keep you coming back for more, and served with shrimp, fish cake/meatballs, and seasonal vegetables.
Belacan's version of Hainan Chicken is tender and absolutely scrumptious with its trio of sauces. Our fav is the ginger sauce but it's so great to experiment by mixing and matching! The chicken rice is savory, fatty, and goes well with any number of Belacan dishes (and not just the Hainan Chicken that it comes with).
For starters, the Roti Canai is absolute bliss - layers of buttery, flaky, pastry-like textures that soak up just the right amount of delicious signature curry sauce. If you love scallion pancakes, you'll likely love this crispier version too!
If you like a little something extra with your Roti, I highly recommend the Murtabak, which is Roti wrapped around delicious seasoned ground beef, also served with Belacan's signature curry sauce. Because the Roti envelops the beef, it does lose some of its crispy texture, but it's such a toothsome combo that you won't mind.
Although technically a salad, Gado Gado is another favorite starter of ours, largely due to the tasty peanut sauce, shrimp crackers, and hard boiled egg that accompany the fried tofu and veggies: kangkung (water spinach), stringbeans, beansprouts, and cucumber. This dish would be especially welcome on a warm day.
For any fried rice fans, another delectable entrée is Belacan's Nasi Goreng: fried rice with plump shrimp, bell peppers, onions, house-made spicy chili sambal, and topped with a fried egg. Bursting with flavors and great if you want leftovers!
Another combo of entrées that we enjoyed together is the Claypot Curry Seafood (top) and Nasi Lemak (bottom). The Claypot Curry Seafood comes out piping hot and is a dreamy concoction of coconut milk curry, shrimp, scallop, fish fillet, tofu, okra, stringbeans, onions, tomato, bell pepper, and eggplant. I don't know how Belacan is able to achieve this, but everything in the pot is super tender, and despite the temperature, is in no danger of becoming overcooked. The Nasi Lemak is savory sampler plate made of slow-cooked beef rendang that has fully absorbed all the appetizing aromatics of coconut milk curry and spices, paired with fragrant coconut rice, sambal anchovies, hard boiled egg, string beans, roasted peanuts, and cucumbers.
Belacan also does a twist on honey walnut shrimp by using pecans instead. The Honey Pecan Shrimp dish consists of breaded shrimp that are crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside, smothered in a white honey glaze and sprinkled with housemade sesame candied pecans.
For desserts, so far we've only tried the Fried Bananas and Coconut Ice Cream but it's definitely a crowd-pleaser! We especially enjoy the contrast in textures and temperatures - the hot and crispy batter of the fried bananas juxtaposed with scoops of cold and creamy coconut ice cream. Neither are too sweet, which is why Belacan drizzles and dusts this masterpiece with some syrup and powdered sugar. Can't wait to continue branching out at Belacan!