ON A ROLL
Byline: Merle Ginsberg
NEW YORK — There’s a mini ethnic revolution going on in SoHo’s restaurant scene, which for years has been filled with late-night boötes geared mostly toward black-clad types who tend to drink, more than eat, their dinner. A few years ago, several very colorful Thai restaurants started to thrive in Lower Manhattan’s artiest neighborhood, and now comes Penang, a Malaysian restaurant that hails from Flushing. Could it be that, finally, fashionable folks are actually flocking to SoHo to eat?
The waiters at Penang (109 Spring St.), trendy denizens of the neighborhood, are quick to tell you Penang serves “authentic Malaysian cuisine, not an Americanized version.” With its back-wall waterfall, rock music and waitresses in well-designed sarongs, that’s sort of hard to believe until the food comes out. Don’t let the names scare you: Poh-piah is a spring roll stuffed with vegetables; Kerang Tom Cheow is fresh clams sauteed with onions, green peppers and black bean sauce. All can be ordered with coconut rice and served as spicy — or not — as you like. There are also the obligatory exotic coconut beverages, and desserts such as peanut pancake or shaved ice with red bean, corn and palm seeds. And you don’t even have to wear black to get a good table.