March Madness

Eat Street Malaysian Restaurant Peninsula is a perfect antidote to late-winter blahs

Whole fish are another joy at Peninsula. I particularly like the "fried fish in spicy Thai sauce," which you can get as a number of fish (including red snapper and walleye) in a number of sizes. I had the small red snapper, and found the preparation of a crisp fish sauced to serve with a tomato-based, spicy, almost chutney-like red concoction to be utterly charming. The tender fish, the crisp crust, and the vibrant sauce combined to create a dish that was altogether fresh and fun.

My final must-order includes any of the hot pots. The spicy and smoky red curry beef one ($11.95), the silky and rare mushroom-rich seafood bean curd one ($12.95), and the eggplant and brisk green curry "curry vegetable hot pot" ($10.95) are all excellent.

All in all, I recommend that you start at Peninsula with a few of my top picks, and gradually expand your repertoire as you return. And I'm pretty sure you will return. Unless you just order willy-nilly, in which case you might end up with some things you're not crazy about. For instance, it's fairly well known that belacan is one of the premier tastes of Malaysia. What's less known is that the fermented shrimp paste makes good old stinky fish sauce seem as mild as fish sticks. If you want the real taste of authenticity, be sure to get the kan kung belacan ($10.95)—water spinach sautéed with the spicy shrimp sauce—but don't send it back if you don't like it, because that's exactly the way it's supposed to be. Seafood chow fun ($7.95) is done with a loose, oily sauce that enhances the slippery, slidey, glistening qualities of the rice noodle—a valued characteristic in Chinese cooking, but one that can seem slimy to Westerners.

Something wholly new on the menu of Twin Cities tastes: Peninsula's pataya fish
Allen Beaulieu
Something wholly new on the menu of Twin Cities tastes: Peninsula's pataya fish

Location Info

Map

Peninsula

2608 Nicollet Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55408

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Uptown/ Eat Street

I didn't try anywhere near all the dishes on Peninsula's voluminous menu, but I did try enough to firmly decide that Peninsula is a great addition to Eat Street. I like the spacious room with its hardwood floors; big windows; dark, sturdy wooden tables and chairs; and servers wearing colorful scarves around the hips of their black pants—it's a look that says destination, but not so much that you can't get out the door for under $20 a person, having eaten generously and well. Basically, Peninsula provides another budget-minded but high-style destination for those well familiar with the other Asian gems of the strip, Chinese Rainbow and Vietnamese Quang and Jasmine Deli.

Not that there's anything wrong with them, but, you know how it is. Quang and Jasmine close too early, and Peninsula is open till midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and until 10:30 the rest of the week. And Rainbow? I don't even need to tell you what's wrong with Rainbow: It's the time of year when any good Minnesotan picks petty fights with her loved ones, remember? And spring so far in the distance. It's enough to make a girl start naming those ice stalactites behind the tires.

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