Best Singaporean - 2005
728 Washington (at Kearny), 296-7878, www.penanggarden.com
A nice change from the numberless Chinese restaurants that surround it, Penang Garden has taken its inspiration from a Singaporean food court lined with vendors, but made all its offerings conveniently available from one menu, as you sit decorously at one table under one roof. Its huge, vividly illustrated menu presents hundreds of dishes, from humble street snacks (juicy satay served with peanut sauce, airy "roti" pancakes with curry sauce) to fancy seafood (live crabs and whole fish in many preparations). You'll find Thai, Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, and Indonesian specialties, too, including nasi goreng, sambal prawns, dozens of curries, mango chicken, and spareribs with coffee, curry, or strawberry sauce, served in a lively setting with tropical murals, columns disguised as trees, and comfy chairs with palm-frond backs. Choose from an array of refreshing beverages (watermelon, carrot, lychee, pineapple, coconut, and rambutan, among others), and don't miss the peanut crepe dessert.