Photography by Stefanie Gans
South China Restaurant
When we start asking our server questions about the Malaysian side of the menu, you can see her smile. She starts talking about which dishes you’d see in what she calls KL (Kuala Lumpur) and what you’d see in her small village. We can tell she’s thankful we’re interested. She knows which of her customers order the Malaya food, as she points in the direction of where their food is delivered. There’s not many. But now, she says, as Del Ray is changing, new neighbors try something other than Kung Pao chicken.
The seafood soup, laksa, is bright and acidic, barely spicy and fragrant with fish. South China uses tuna. There’s little white noodles in a reddish-brown broth: chili paste cooked down with tamarind. Slices of raw onion and matchsticks of cucumber add freshness and some snap to this vibrant sour soup.
▶ Malaysian; Order: Penang’s Asian laksa
South China Restaurant, 1302 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria