Serious Eats: New York
TGI Fry-Day: Crispy Bean Curd at Sanur
Sanur is not a great Malaysian restaurant. But it's an exceptionally cheap one, with a funky basement dining room—see the intricate shadow puppets on the wall and the Madonna sountrack—so at home on Chinatown's Doyers Street that you feel like it's been there forever.
It isn't the first place I'd take someone for a meal in Chinatown, but when I want to catch up with a friend in a quiet, cozy quiet place, Sanur is on my rotation. The order: Singapore rice noodles, Penang-style fried cubes, endless tea refills, and this Crispy Bean Curd ($4.75).
You may recognize the dish as rojak, an Indonesian salad of fried bits like tofu and potato topped with a sweet peanut sauce and sometimes crunchy shrimp chips. The dish is all about the play of sweetness and crunch with a little heat for balance, and for the most part Sanur gets it. The dressing isn't totally loaded with excess sugar, and the tofu retains a delicate crunch beneath it. There's a mild fish funkiness to the dish, a happy savory edge against the sweetness.
18 Doyers Street, New York, NY 10013 (map)