Malacca: What happened?

You have to believe me when I tell you this: I don’t want to write another cranky review. My hand to God, I’ve been feeling bad about how much negativity I’ve been pouring on to these pages as of late. I’m actually a pretty positive person on the whole. Sarcastic, sure. But positive.

Well, kids, you’re going to have to wait another week for smiles and puppydogs and lollipops. Cuz it’s about to get ugly again.

I’ve been out of town for the last week, this time in Orange County. I wanted to come home and have some QT with my partner, maybe grab a nice dinner and bar hop around the Castro for a bit. I specifically set out to make reservations somewhere where I felt reasonably certain of a decent meal—because like I said, it’s time for some good vibrations around here. (The Beach Boys type, not the store.) Then I thought of Malacca.*

My partner and I first wandered into Malacca a little over a year ago, when they were at their 18th Street location. We didn’t know a thing about the place, and we were pleasantly surprised. The interior was warm and sophisticated, they had a great wine list, including several nice flights, the menu was focused and unique, and the food turned out to be refreshingly good. I remember commenting, “Wow, finally a decent place in the Castro.”

Fast forward to this weekend. Malacca has a new location, directly beneath The Café, next to the gas station on the corner of Market and Castro. It seemed like the perfect jumping off point for our evening’s adventures, and I was all pumped up to write a “hidden gem” review, la la la, yummy Asian-influenced food, great wine, yadda, yadda.

My Spidey-Sense was tingling the minute we walked in. Gone was the blonde wood and warm light from their previous location. The place was all tarted up in cool blues and late 90s angles, with dance club lighting, cheap, uncomfortable seating, and a huge bar that dominated the space. The music was pumping (possibly to drown out the bass from the club upstairs) and the staff outnumbered the diners at 8:00 p.m. on a Saturday night.


“Didn’t you use to offer wine flights?” I asked our waitress.

“Yeah, we used to,” she replied, “but not anymore.”


Our water arrived with straws in it, like a cocktail.

Our soy-based Creamy Spinach and Pea soup, which we remembered fondly from our last visit, tasted like Box soup. (Trader Joes fans, you know what I mean.)

My partner’s Sea Bass sat on a bed of vaguely Asian vegetable mush that reminded us both of Lean Cuisine.

My “Sexy Caprese” (ordered for lack of a better alternative—but really, what place does a Caprese salad have on an Asian Fusion menu?) was firm. Like, really, really, firm. I’m at a loss for how else to describe it.

My Grilled Vegetables (also ordered off the mysterious Tapas menu since the only veggie entrée was a rather plain sounding pasta) were completely depressing. I can’t figure out why they were even on the menu to begin with.

And all of it, ALL of it, was liberally splattered with Balsamic reduction. It was like a scene from a zombie movie. The Balsamic Massacre.

My partner commented that it tasted like wedding food at the Marriott. Which isn’t a very nice thing to say about Marriott. I think they could do better.

Malacca, what the hell happened?!

I’m assuming you opted to take the money-making cocktail-lounge-that-happens-to-serve-snacks route, but it’s really a shame. Like seeing Sheryl Crow in a Revlon Colorist commercial. It’s clearly all about the Benjamins.
* Note that the Gayot review was written before the move. They mention the new location, but the write-up hasn’t changed.



Filed under Cocktails First, Mid-range Meals, Reviews

3 responses to “Malacca: What happened?

  1. I have long come to realize that having a decent restaurant in the Castro is simply too much to ask. But have you checked out the Vietnamese place that took over where the original Malacca was? I’m curious …

  2. I haven’t yet. But I’ll check it out…

  3. I just started reading your blog this week (it was recommended to me by a friend) and when I saw “Malacca” in the title, I thought, “Great, a Malaysian restaurant that serves vegetarian food.” Apparently not. But if everyone else has the same impression that you did, perhaps the owners will realize that Malacca is a city with an amazing food culture (read Eating Asia for examples).

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