there's no dinner music whatsoever at Mun Chong (721 Gerrard East, at DeGrassi, 416-469-9688), an east-side eatery that offers an Indonesian, Malay and Thai lineup, as well as Vietnamese pho. Open a year in October, this small room is austere: unadorned pale beige walls, fluorescent lighting, layers of white plastic over tables. And despite language barriers, staff are friendly and helpful with questions.At their insistence, we begin with Thai-style mango chicken ($6.99), an otherwise orthodox sliced breaded cutlet layered with slivered ripe mango next to a puddle of sweet peanut sauce. Pork-packed Vietnamese spring rolls ($3.50) are those meaty cylinders found on pho, minus the soup.
The easily daunted will freak when they see "Fish" (the kitchen's not sure of its English name, $9.99), a toothy head 'n' tail, skin 'n' bones deep-fried flounder. Slashed diagonally, it arrives at table with sauce -- Indo (chili peanut) or Thai (sweet pepper and onion) -- leaking from its midsection. Alongside the Incredible Mr. Limpet, a spicy salad of bell pepper julienne, red onion and coriander leaf needs no dressing. Remember to remove the surprisingly buttery flesh from the outside unless you want a mouthful of bones.
Mun Chong features noodles a number of ways, but Indonesian fried ($5) is certainly the best. Squirted with lime, these tasty yellow wheat ribbons show up with grilled shrimp and, for lack of a better description, luncheon meat (think Vietnamese subs), as well as large chunks of tomato, briefly stir-fried scallion, sprouts and crushed peanut. This dish (Indonesian Fried Noodle Soup -- spicy) is not a soup, but the menu gets it right with the spicy part.
Vegetable Malay curry ($5.99), thick with diagonally cut okra, napa cabbage, green pepper, tiny tofu sponges and rich coconut milk, gets its slow-building heat from Harry's Curry Paste, the crucial spice mix made by Jean's Fine Foods on the Danforth. It's not all hits; a dozen Sambal Udang shrimps ($9.99) taste like shrimp in shrimp sauce, complete with shells, tails and feelers. Authentic, yes, but hard to stomach. firstname.lastname@example.org