The best Malaysian I've had was on a sidewalk foodstand, but that was in Singapore. In Boston, Penang is probably the best Malaysian place. It may also be the only in town. There used to be another restaurant called Banana Leaf but it went out of business years ago. There are two Penang in the chain. The original, also better, and cheaper, is on Washington St in Chinatown. Inside its wooden furniture and decoration try to impart a Malaysian feel. The menu has some Chinese influence, probably due to the ownership. According to my sister, this one is even better than the original Penang in NY. It's certainly better than the Malaysian restaurant, whose name I forget, that I visited in NY's Chinatown.
The newer restaurant in Harvard Sq has glitzier decor, as is the trend for restaurants in that area.
Experience: July 2008.
The restaurant has an extensive and interesting menu (see photos) and excellent food.
Favorite Dish: - Appetizer: Curry with Yong Tau Foo $7.50
[Eggplant, bitter melon and tofu stuffed with minced fish, served in a clear chicken broth or curry soup]
The Chinese name literally means stuff five types of vegetables. It came with a big bowl, which surprised me as I thought would have been just a small dish of appitizer. It has eggplant, bitter melon, tufu, chilli peper and tofu stuffed with minced fish or shrimp, both were very fresh and properly cooked (i.e., NOT over cooked). It is hot and spicy but very tasty!
- Penang Chef's Specailities N.25: Sauteed Frog with Ginger and Scallion $16.25
I believe they were the big frogs that Cantonese call them Bull Frogs, not the kind that French eat or Beijing people have (the smaller kind living in the rice field). The dish was good.
The waiters and waitresses jump on you as soon as you walk in pushing you to order quickly and are very much in a rush. However the restaurant is very uniquely decorated and the food is very good and inexpensive.
This restaurant seems to be one of the busiest in Chinatown.