Layang Layang – San Jose, CA

Layang Layang is just the plural for kite (kites) in Bahasa Melayu aka Malay (the national language of Brunei & Malaysia). Meep and I have driven past this restaurant a handful of times but was never too keen about visiting it. Even when I saw a deal on Groupon, I still was not swayed. To be honest, I probably would never stop by if it was not for my facial lady.

My facial lady, L (who I met almost 2 years ago) wanted to take me out for lunch because I have been helping her out w some research. She is Indonesian and speaks highly of Layang Layang, and since she is taking me out to lunch I was not going to be picky.

The restaurant looks like a shack from the main road

Although this place advertises that it serves Malaysian cuisine, there is also some Indonesian specific dishes. It is hard to say what is really Malaysian because Singapore and Brunei both served the same kind of food – all of them a blend of Chinese, Nyonya, Malay and Indian cuisine.

Menu is very extensive. This usually worries me because no restaurant with over 60 items on the menu could possibly be good at all of the dishes. There is a page each for appetisers, poultry, meat, seafood, noodles, rice plates, soups, desserts and a vegetarian option.

On top of this big menu, there was one for Nyonya desserts.

And a lunch specials menu, which is just discounted items of the regular menu.

With such a big menu, it got overwhelming trying to decide what to eat. I wanted to try every dish that reminded me of home but ordering the wrong items could result in a very disappointing meal. But L has been there many times over the past 7 years so she chose 3 of the 4 dishes.

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We ordered:

Assam Soup (Complimentary)

Tamarind flavoured; sweet, soury and a little spicy. This is very much like instant mix watery soup. I didn’t care much for this.

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Roti Canai $2.95

Roti Canai (aka Murtabak or Roti Prata). Pretty good rendition of the popular multilayered thin (almost pastry like), crispy and chewy favourite in all parts of South East Asia. It was surprisingly not greasy, crisped on the outside with softer centre. The sauce is a sweet curry sauce that I did not care much for but was not bad with the roti. I rather eat the roti by itself.

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Kari Mee $6.95

I was quite disappointed with this dish. The curry broth was sweet and quite one dimensional. Usually curry has a complex and very developed flavours from a huge range of spices and coconut milk. This was more blah… I can’t explain it very well but this was just not very good.

They ran out of the usual dark meat that the noodles are served with, so we got slivers of chicken breasts. The chicken was bland and obviously as a last minute addition to the curry broth. The noodles was so soft that they were basically mush. I love my noodles done through, which is softer than the usual but even this was gross to me.

Good thing it was a lunch special, so was a tad cheaper.

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Beef Rendang $8.95

I was blown away by this dish. To be honest, it is not as “authentic” as the amazing beef rendang one of my mom’s friend makes. The beef rendang I am used to is usually a little dry and more stringy, with bits of dessicated coconut. Regardless of that, it definitely had the distinct flavours of beef rendang and was very very good.

The beef pieces were very tender, with random bits of fats and tendon that were so soft as well. Every piece was bursting with flavours of home. Hints of cardamom, cinnamon, lemongrass and so many more I can’t identify but man.. so good over white rice. The sauce was so complex and tasted like it took hours to build.

For $8.95, the serving was generous. I would be willing to pay over $12 for each plate.

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Kangkong Belacan $9.95

Delicious! You can’t really go wrong with kangkong (well, unless they r wilted and not fresh). The vegetables maintained a distinct crunch because of the hollow stalks. Tossed in a fermented dried shrimp paste (aka Belacan). Every bite was pungent, savoury, a tad sweet and spicy. Just delicious.

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Pulut Hitam $2.95

Pretty good. The dark purple rice used for this dessert has the husk intact so it give the dessert a nice crunch and really fun to eat. Like the shell in red/green bean desserts. Thick, sweet, goopy topped with a little light coconut milk. Great way to end the meal.

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Extras:

2 White Rice @ $1.25 each

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Total Damage: ~$43 (including tax & tip)

Personal Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Very good)

I am glad I finally tried Layang Layang. The beef rendang and kangkong is enough to entice a second visit w Meep. I brought him some of the leftovers and he loved them! I can’t wait to try other dishes that remind me of home – laksa, curry with potatoes, lamb curry and more.

Service is not bad. The two servers we had were really nice but others looked like they rather be elsewhere. The restaurant was packed for the 2 hours during lunch time and so we were seated outside. We were forgotten for a while since we sat outside.

For the quality and quantity, prices charged were reasonable or at least competitive with other establishments.

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Layang Layang

1480 S De Anza Blvd
San Jose, CA 95129

(408) 777 8897

Layang Layang on Urbanspoon


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