365 pays a visit to John 3:16 Malaysian Delights. (PHOTO: TARA LEE)
John 3:16 Malaysian Delights (170-8151 Anderson Rd.) might win the award for the most unusual restaurant name in Richmond. Opened last July, (but still sporting its grand opening sign), this wee spot has gradually been building a following for its offering of classic Malaysian dishes ever since.
The decor at John 3:16 Malaysian Delights. (PHOTO: TARA LEE)
Interiors are charmingly basic, with its wallpaper of fruit vines, varied assortment of tables and chairs, and Bible quotes used as ‘inspirational’ design accents. Service is gracious (bordering on timid), and eager-to-please.
Inside John 3:16 Malaysian Delights. (PHOTO: TARA LEE)
The menu, which is the same for both lunch and dinner, contains an affordable selection of appetizers as well as rice, noodle, seafood, meat and veggie dishes. Our server recommended starting with Roti Canai with Curry Sauce ($4.95), as well as Satay Beef ($6.95). The flatbread was excellent, with a crisp, golden exterior giving way to light, flaky inside layers. The satays meanwhile were marinated beautifully, the spicing pairing well with the umami-rich peanut dip on the side.
Reviewer Tara Lee was a big fan of the Roti Canai with Curry Sauce. (PHOTO: TARA LEE)
The Beef Satay at John 3:16 Malaysian Delights. (PHOTO: TARA LEE)
Dishes appeared at our table with impressive efficiency. Its popular Curry Laksa ($8.95) features egg noodles and vermicelli, as well as tender curry chicken, tofu puffs, fish cake, prawns, bean sprouts and veggies. The soup, however, despite its vibrant red colour, was a bit on the bland side and didn’t bring the spicy heat I was looking for.
Curry Laksa. (PHOTO: TARA LEE)
I had similar quibbles with a few of the other dishes, which, although satisfying, were muted in taste. The Beef Rendang ($12.95) with chunks of potato had been slow cooked until the meat was incredibly tender, but lacked the rich intensity I was hoping for.
Beef Rendang. (PHOTO: TARA LEE)
Nasi Lemak ($9.95) showcased a lovely variety of textures and tastes with coconut rice, curry chicken, peanuts, tiny fried anchovies, cucumber, boiled egg and sambal sauce. While the chicken was juicy and the sauce had a creamy consistency, the flavours again needed heightening.
Nasi Lemak. (PHOTO: TARA LEE)
The Sambal Halibut. (PHOTO: TARA LEE)
More successful was the Sambal Halibut ($14.95), the fish nicely caramelized and moist, and the sambal sauce hitting that crucial balance between sweet, salty and sour. Also delicious was the Mamak Mee Goreng ($8.95), which consisted of egg noodles, stir-fried with egg, bean sprouts, tofu, fish cake and prawns. Noodles were al dente and the dish had a delicious sweet, tangy flavour to it.
The delightful Mamak Mee Goreng. (PHOTO: TARA LEE)
The Final Verdict:
Overall, John 3:16 is a great place for a low-key, inexpensive meal when you’re craving Malaysian food in an unassuming, cheerful space. Although I would have preferred a bolder approach to spicing, the cooking is solid and the service attentive and welcoming.
Have you dined at John 3:16 Malaysian Delights? What dishes would you eat again?