I’ve gone on about my love of Malaysian food so many times but that’s not going to stop me from doing it again here.
Malaysia Kitchen is going to be one of the headline stalls at the Taste Of London event next weekend and those lovely people at Sauce Comms invited a load of us down to South Kensington initially and then on a tour of two other restaurants. Food crawl, brilliant.
Anyway, we started off at the rather upmarket Awana just up the road from South Ken tube where William Wang was a welcoming host. An extensive cocktail list was perused and I ended up with an Apple Sin, containing Rum, Apple schnapps and juice I think – it wasn’t as sweet as I first feared and was actually hugely drinkable (I had a second) even though it came in a slightly odd twisted glass. Lots of people were trying the Champagne cocktail with hibiscus and there was another drink with in a bizarre martini type glass but with no stem nestling in another glass of ice.
We were shown the Satay bar – one of the only ones in London and the signature feature here. It reminded me of the time in Ipoh watching Megat’s brother creating a production line of Roti balls for his breakfast stall. His brother and next door neighbour’s young son worked together to make sure the dough was airy and ready to roll out in the morning to serve all the trade by the side of the road in his village. Awesome stuff and also about the only place I’ve felt like a celebrity.
Here they were frying the rotis and we had a selection, with plain rotis served with red curry sauce as well as dhal. This has always been one of my facourite dishes and it was good here although the curry sauce was close, I didn’t think it was quite as authentic as the one I had at Melati. We also had Murtabak (Roti filled with Beef Rendang) and some very good satay which turned out to be the “control dish” across all the places we ate.
Hard to really judge this place from the food that we had but it was a decent set of starters, the cocktails were good and it is a bit more upmarket and impressive a restaurant than the others we visited.
Second place, after quickly jumping in the back of a car was the Satay House. At first I was very unconvinced as we were shepherded downstairs but this slightly dingy basement was packed with diners and it was described by one blogger who I shan’t name as a “flat pack restaurant” that you could fold up when required, down to the apparently stuck on teardrop light fittings. The service seemed a little all over the place as well but then in comparison to Awana they were far busier. It wasn’t too long before the next phase of our feast was being served, with Beef Rendang, spicy aubergine, noodles, rice and satay again on the menu. The Rendang was really good, with a lingering chilli heat and tender meat while the aubergine also had a big kick to it.
I was surprised by the rice, which I didn’t think was cooked particularly well (and I’m a big fan of my Malaysian coconut rice) but in many ways the food here was the most authentic and tasty we tried.
Full to the brim we were herded into our transport again and taken just around the corner to our final stop (where surely dessert would be all that was on offer) Tuk Din in Bayswater.
As it turned out they were very keen to demonstrate the abilities of the kitchen as well and we were faced with a menu card promising another 6 dishes…
This was a Malay restaurant rather than the perhaps more Chinese influenced ones we had been to before (and certainly compared with Kiasu the other week) and so with no alcohol served by the Muslim proprietors it was fruit juices all the way – Lychee was popular but I thought the Guava was a bit special.
This place was bright and airy with a welcoming feel as we entered and the presentation of all the dishes on offer was superb. Colourful, fresh and interesting it would be very hard to fault the look of this food.
When the food arrived, it was surprising how I was able to get involved. I liked the Satay pieces – served not on the stick and personally I would say they were probably my favourite although pretty close with Awana.
I was starting to wonder how on earth I could manage any more though and the Vegetarian Fried Noodles did nothing to encourage me. Mee Goreng has never been my favourite and this didn’t sway me at all.
For the mains, Sweet and Sour Sea Bass was the winner for me – not quite as good as the one I had under the stars in Kampung Baru near downtown KL – but tasty with a zingy sharpness.
The chicken Rendang was much milder than in Satay House and the large chunks of meat didn’t really work for me. I found the beef in coconut and lemongrass a bit bland but a lot of people had this down as their favourite dish, the mussels were similarly a bit underwhelming.
I liked this place and would come back but purely in terms of food I think the Satay House was slightly tastier – opinions were very much divided though!
Thanks so much to Luiz at the London Foodie for the pictures!