Yesterday, I took a break from my restaurant hopping to actually do some rehearsing. Luckily, when we were done, my flute player friend Carla was up for a trip to Elmhurst so I could satisfy my craving for Hainanese chicken at Taste Good.
For me, Hainanese chicken is its own special category of comfort food. Essentially chicken that has been poached with ginger and scallion, it is served room-temperature along with rice that has been cooked in the chicken broth, with a little side dish of a gingery orange dipping sauce. Somehow it is much more than the sum of its parts... utterly delicious, and inexplicably comforting. I really need to have this every couple of weeks or so.
I truly want to work my way through the extensive menu, but I always seem compelled to order the same things. The classic Malaysian appetizer roti canai is superb--the moist-yet-flaky roti bread is totally delicious on its own... dip it into the cup of chicken-curry sauce served with it and enter nirvana. The Singapore kari laksa is outstanding, as I'm told all of the laksa (noodles in curry broth) soups are. The beef rendang is also outstanding--it's like the richest, most complex beef stew imaginable, with the slightest hot pepper kick to it. One should definitely try a belacan dish (sautéed with spicy shrimp paste)--I thought the kacang pendek belacan (string beans) was terrific. Sizzling bean curd is yet another winner, with the lighter-than-air beancurd pieces arranged around a sauce of minced pork.
For spice wimps, there is no need to fear the dishes on the menu with the little red pepper next to them. I have yet to taste any one of these that was actually spicy (at least in my book). And although the prices have gone up very slightly since the menu linked to below was printed, it is still dirt cheap.
I'm told this is place serves the best Malaysian food in the city, and I have no trouble believing it. It certainly blows a much more famous competitor that I visited last year right out of the water. Everyone I have brought here has absolutely loved this place (Carla was almost wet), even some normally very un-adventurous eaters. And do remember not to go on Thursdays, which is their somewhat odd closing day.
82-18 45th Ave., Elmhurst 11373
(G, R, or V train to Elmhurst Ave., then one block west on 45th Ave.)