This was a trip down memory lane for me. I used to go the Tropika location in Edmonton a lot when they first opened in the mid-1990s. Originating in Vancouver, Tropika is actually a chain/franchise currently with three locations in the Vancouver area and two locations in Edmonton. That first Edmonton location used to be one of my favourite restaurants and it was my first introduction to Thai and Malaysian food. However, over the years, I just felt the food was never quite as good as it used to be. At one point, about 10 years ago, there was even a Tropika location in Calgary but it didn’t last long as the food wasn’t as good as the Edmonton and Vancouver locations. On my trip to Vancouver last fall, I decided to give Tropika a try again since some of my friends seem to really enjoy their food.
We started off with an order of the Roti Canai (Malay Bread) ($2.95), which came with a curry dipping sauce. The Roti Canai is a type of Indian-influenced flatbread that is popular in Malaysia and Indonesia. It is usually flaky and soft and contains many layers. On this visit to Tropika, the Roti Canai was pretty average. It wasn’t the best that I’ve ever had but definitely not the worst either. My favourite Roti Canai has been the version from Bo Laksa King, especially if Bo or his wife, Tiffany makes it. I like it when the roti is fluffy and soft on the inside with lots of layers while being crispy and flaky on the outside. I didn’t find this version from Tropika to be as crispy and flaky on the outside as I would have liked and the inside didn’t contain very many layers. I did however enjoy the curry dipping sauce which was quite flavourful.
Next, we had the Sambal Bunchies ($13.95), which consisted of green beans with spicy prawns and coconut milk and a dash of Sambal sauce. This has been my friend C’s favourite dish. She often raves about the Sambal Bunchies from Tropika. On this visit, I thought they were tasty but not particularly memorable. They were not as spicy as I would have liked and I thought the green beans could have been fried a bit longer till they pucker.
Lastly, we tried the Terung Udang Kering ($13.95), which apparently is a signature dish at Tropika and according to the printed menu, it supposedly has been voted as one of the best eggplant dishes in the city. The eggplant is stir-fried in Sambal sauce and sun-dried shrimps with a touch of sesame oil. I had high expectations of this dish since it supposedly had rave reviews. The dish was tasty and the flavours worked well together. However, it didn’t have the wow factor I was hoping for. The eggplant was toothsome but I thought again it could have been fried for a touch longer.
Overall, our meal tasted fine at this Tropika location on Cambie. I did find that both dishes were a touch on the greasy/oily side. As for Malaysian food in Vancouver, I think there may be better choices out there. Personally, I really enjoyed my visits to Penang Delight Cafe (Visit #1 and Visit #2) in the past. Because Tropika is a chain, I find that their menu is catered slightly towards the Western palate whereas I find Penang Delight’s interpretations to be more authentic. Perhaps, the experience may also depend on the location as it is after all a chain. I’d be willing to give the Tropika location in Richmond a try in the future to see how it compares.
Tropika on Cambie
2975 Cambie Street