Malaysian Mouth Invasian! Belacan Grill Malaysian Bistro. Tustin, CA.

Little Malaysia in Tustin?

The upper middle class suburb of Tustin, California isn't the first place that comes to mind when craving fresh roti canai or heavenly Hainan chicken but it should. Belacan Grill Malaysian Bistro may not be the Malaysian cooking of your mom's in Penang but, really, unless you're Malaysian, whose is?

Belacan is located in a very suburb-esque shopping center off of the 55 freeway in the South OC. However, once you walk in, there is a subtle transformation of place that happens. It's not an over-the-top exotic atmosphere but something less intimidating and more welcoming. It's not exactly Malaysia but it's definitely not Tustin either.

Nuts for coconuts.

Starting a meal by cleansing your palate of the day you just left behind is always a great idea. A freshly opened coconut brimming with cool, detoxifying coconut juice with delicate slivers of white coconut flesh is like a chance at being reborn.

Lychee and ice is very nice!

For a fussy-free taste of Southeast Asia made of lychee, the juice of lychee and crushed ice, the Lychee Ice beverage is a nice treat that's not too sweet. This drink is what a Slurpee wishes it could be when it grows up.

Flat bread. Full belly.

The Roti Canai at Belacan is one of the flakiest and chewiest I've had. When used as a scoop to grab a mouthful of the fantastic Malaysian Chicken Curry (not pictured), it's a flavorful combination with a myriad of textures. Roti canai is a basically the Indian unleavened flatbread known as paratha. Belacan's roti canai is highly habit forming and can lead one to overload on the carbs even before the first course arrives thanks to a super tasty curry dipping sauce with just the right mix of spicy heat.

Pad Thai + Chow Fun = Pad Fun!

I love greasy Asian noodles. Chow Fun is one of my favorite Chinese noodle dishes and Pad Thai is a standard Thai fave. Belacan's Char Kway Teow would be as if chow fun hooked up with pad thai and begat this tasty noodle plate. The flat rice noodles reminiscent of chow fun noodles combined with the pad thai components of chicken, shrimp, bean sprouts and scrambled eggs result in great tastes from mom and dad.

Shell-on shrimp, yum in mouth!

Crispy Curry Leaf Shrimp is cooked like many Asian shrimp dishes are prepared with the shell on. This makes for crispier texture and deeper flavor. The curry flavor is not overwhelming since it is sautéed with curry leaves but you can taste it. The heat from the chilies is also subtle. It's easy to keep eating these shrimp and lose track of exactly how many have been gobbled.

Daging Kecap Manis. Say that three times fast!

A sweet meat dish with heat called Daging Kecap Manis contains supremely tender stir-fried pieces of beef thick with a sweet soy glaze. It really is almost like candy with an afterburn. Top it on steamed rice and it's perfection.

Why did the chicken rice cross the road?

Hainan chicken and rice are popular Malaysian dishes that were created on China's Hainan island. The chicken flavored rice that is commonly associated with the chicken dish is available all over Malaysia especially as a fast food at hawker stalls and in cafes. In Malaysia, chicken rice balls are more typical than a bowl of chicken rice.

Belacan includes a bowl of chicken rice with any order of Hainan chicken. The chicken rice has a gentle flavor with a light golden hue. It's not as oily as some traditional chicken rice. I would've preferred mine with more chicken oil and flavor.

High five to the Hainan (chicken)!

Hainan Chicken itself is always presented at room temperature. This fact can bewilder or turn off diners who aren't familiar with the chicken. At Belacan, chicken breast is poached instead of boiled so the meat is quite tender. There are three sauces that accompany the poultry: a ginger sauce, sweet chili sauce and a special soy sauce. The finely grated ginger sauce is what purists use and is delicious. The sweet chili sauce makes the chicken that much more flavorful and exciting.

And it can be honestly said that Belacan Grill makes Tustin and South Orange County that much more flavorful and exciting as well.

Belacan Grill Malaysian Bistro
17460 17th St.
Tustin, CA 92780



JB said…
Dined at this site circa 2006 when it was known as Tropika. I remember it being very inferior Malaysian. Am hoping a new chef joined when the name changed.

The ginger sauce with the Hainan Chicken looks intriguing. When I order this dish elsewhere, I always smear the chili sauce on the chicken, to defibrillate the neutral flavor of it. The ginger sauce looks more enticing here.

Eddie do you recall if the chicken is served boneless? It appears so in the pic.
Eddie Lin said…

Yes, the Hainan Chicken was boneless. I don't claim to be an expert on Malaysian food but the meal was very tasty. Thanks for stopping by!