I’m embarrassed at how long it took me to make it to Malka. A friend of mine with impeccable taste had been waxing lyrical about their Bellflower salad for over a year before my ass finally got into gear and over to the charming house in which the restaurant resides. As soon as I pulled up and saw a bubble machine working overtime on the porch, I sensed I was in for a treat. Mood? Boosted. (And in case you're wondering....) Maskne? Cleared.
In regards to the salad that drew me to Malka, I would be remiss if I didn’t take some time to gush about it. The Bellflower is probably the best thing I’ve eaten so far this year and includes a laundry list of fruits, veggie, and accoutrements (two words: CRISPY RICE) that make for consistently flavorful bites. The dish requires some assembly, but no matter how non-existent your plating skills, it’ll look absolutely stunning. The entrée sized salad comes with your choice of protein—chicken tenders or Ota tofu. Carnivores, I highly recommend opting for the fish sauce glazed tenders.
Malka stays on their toes, introducing new creations to their drink menu on a monthly-ish basis. “When we have time to push creativity in new directions, we always do,” said front of house manager Gabrielle Martin. Drink flavor profiles are reflective of owner and chef Jessie Aron’s cooking, with ingredients like citrus and lemongrass playing notable roles.
“The Eavesdropper” is a fairly new addition to the rotation. A base of refreshing cucumber and mango is blended with Thai basil and Novo Fogo Silver Cachaça, resulting in a stunning chartreuse slushie that’ll put any neon-hued Slurpee to shame. Distilled from fermented sugarcane juice, Cachaça is Brazil’s national spirit and probably most familiar to non-Brazilian consumers as the star ingredient of a caipirinha.
Whether you can’t help but overhear your neighbor’s conversation from your backyard, or you’re lowkey eavesdropping on the next picnic blanket over the park, I highly suggest having an “Eavesdropper” in hand. Sip that slush while they spill the tea. This slushie is so deliciously drinkable that I had to consciously pace myself and savor it.
A short but sweet selection of five cocktails to-go are available sans alcohol for half the price of their liquored counterparts. When restos were given the green light for cocktails to-go, Malka rolled with it by giving their house drinks a boozy boost.
House favorite “Coconut Cream Coke” has been a menu staple since the restaurant’s beginnings as the Carte Blanche food cart. Real sugar Coca-Cola (the good stuff that comes in a glass bottle) and coconut cream get hits of vanilla and lemon with the optional addition of what else but rum. Malka uses Flor de Caña dark rum for their juiced up rum and coke. To illustrate just how good it was: my dining buddy went for the zero-proof version and upon first sip his face broke into an expression of utter delight.
The restaurant has had a takeout model for the duration of the pandemic but will welcome back customers to their expanded patio in June. Diners are guaranteed a magical experience in a garden setting flush with native plants.
Malka, 4546 SE Division, (503) 899-4245, malkapdx.com