City 1 Cafe is a little Singaporean and Malaysian restaurant located in a strip mall (where Safeway is) on King Edward Avenue, just passed Oak Street. They’ve been open since December of last year and have been receiving positive reviews from diners. But what does Eating in Vancouver think about City 1 Cafe? Now remember, we’ve lived in South East Asia and have spent extensive time traveling around the region. I wouldn’t call us “experts”, but we can spot good SEA grub from a mile away.
We ordered a few appetizers, starting with Roti Canai – Does anyone see anything wrong with the above photo? Yeah, that knife is a major faux-pas. First of all, you’re not supposed to cut roti; it’s to be torn and eaten with your hands (right hand specifically, if you don’t know why, look it up). Knives never provided on restaurant tables in Singapore/Malaysia/Indonesia/Brunei – it’s always forks and spoons. Anyway, the roti itself had slightly burnt parts with an almost undercooked interior.
Satay – Decent, juicy, nicely marinated skewers. Although the satay‘s peanut dipping sauce could use some work.
Laksa – Laksa is one of my all-time favourite dishes. This one, sadly, was a watery, gritty, extremely salty soup. No depth of flavour and its noodles were soggy.
Hainanese Chicken – This was a valiant attempt at Singapore’s beloved chicken rice dish. Points for being boneless chicken. But when you’ve had the real thing numerous times in Singapore and Malaysia, nothing can quite compare. (Notable eateries in Singapore were here and here. In Vancouver, Cafe D’Lite and Tropika have both tried their hands at Hainanese chicken rice). City 1 Cafe’s chili dipping sauce was very thin in consistency. It reminded me of a watery version of that Thai sweet chili sauce sold in glass bottles at Safeway. Also, the ginger dipping sauce was lacking that pungent intensity it’s famous for.
Where are all the authentic Singaporean/Malaysian restaurants in this city? The only truly authentic Malaysian restaurant that we know of in Vancouver is Seri Malaysia. Jamal is Malay and is actually from Johor Baru (across the bridge from Singapore). But apparently, he closed Seri down…
Overall, City 1 Cafe offers what we call “Hong Kong-ified” Malaysian food, like what they serve at Mui Garden. Prices were decent, the restaurant was clean and service was pleasant. If you’ve never had authentic Singaporean or Malaysian food, then you might enjoy City 1 Cafe’s fare. We, however, were not impressed.