Curry Leaves, a longstanding Malaysian restaurant in Flushing, doesn't get everything right. Like most of the city's Malaysian cooking, it could stand to go for the gut with fresher, spicier, more unapologetic flavors. But sometimes you gotta have your coconut chicken soups or char kway teow or crackly oyster omelet, and when the craving strikes, Curry Leaves is there for you. But the real star of a meal there is the vegetables.
Begin any visit with Achat ($3.50), a dish of sweet and tangy Malaysian pickles topped with ground peanuts and toasted sesame seeds. Here the pickles in question are green bean, carrot, slivered eggplant, and cabbage softened with vinegar, sweetened with sugar, and stained yellow with turmeric. They're sweet to be sure but not blatantly sugary, and kicked up with enough fresh turmeric spice to stay interesting, though it's the well-toasted sesame that gives this simple plate of pickles the balance and boldness it needs.
You'll also do well with stir fried morning glory ($8.95), which maintains crisp stems while soaking in a fistful of fermented shrimp paste. An especially tender beef rendang ($11.95) rounds out an order well.