Monday, December 04, 2006

Shiok, Menlo Park

I hadn't heard of this restaurant before Colin emailed to tell me about it. But once I took a look at the menu, I put it at the top of my list of places to try.

First of all, I have to say: Since we didn't have any prior experience with Singaporean food, we went into this rather blindly. We didn't know what the go-to Singaporean items were -- the Pad Thai or Shaking Beef of the cuisine, if you will. So we just picked what sounded good (from the lengthy menu) and crossed our fingers.

We chose well.

Since it was a chilly night, I quickly ordered myself a cup of the delicious, sweet honey-ginger tea. For our starters, Jon and I went with the Beef Samosa with Yogurt Mint Sauce and the Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce. The lightly breaded chicken was good (you definitely need to dip it into the sauce), but the samosas were outstanding. Inside the crispy pastry shell was a minced beef, onion and potato mix that was flavorful but not too spicy.

Noodles and rice -- comfort foods to me -- seemed like perfect entree selections for the evening. The Hor Fun is described as stir-fried broad rice noodles in rich egg gravy, with vegetables and your choice of seafood, beef or chicken. We opted for just the veggies. While we were expecting a heaping plate of noodles, what we got looked more like a stew. This is because that egg gravy is really thick. But there were definitely a lot of noodles in the bowl, and it was a satisfying dish.

Because I love Chinese sausage and claypot dishes, the next entree was a no-brainer for me: The Claypot Rice with marinated chicken, Chinese sausage, mushroom and bok choy. Simple and tasty. It reminded me a lot of a meal my mom used to make quite often when I was growing up.

Finally, we got to the dessert menu. In keeping with the theme of ordering food that's reminiscent of my mom's cooking, I ordered the Banana Roll (sans the ice cream -- it was just too cold!). Again, the beauty is in the simplicity: Just sliced bananas in a spring roll-wrapper that had been deep-fried. Awesome. Jon ordered the Fried Ice Cream, which was coconut ice cream with a layer of sponge cake around it, deep-fried and then drizzled with chocolate syrup. I didn't sample his, but since he ate it all, I can only assume it was good.

The decor here is attractive, but nothing fancy. I was a little thrown by the melamine cups, plates and spoons; it just seemed a tad too casual. When our bill arrived, we were surprised that our three-course meal was under $50. Maybe all of that plastic dishware (less breakage) helps them keep costs down?

Shiok Kitchen
1137 Chestnut Street
Menlo Park, CA
(650) 838-9448