elb's hovel of thoughts

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Malaysian Eateries in London

There are a few Malaysian restaurants that I have eaten at in London so far, unfortunately there are no pictures, sorry. Restaurants listed in the order that I can recall them. I stress that I hardly eat Malaysian food here in London (there is so much more to eat than just Malaysian food, you know), so I have been to only a few places. And as for the omission of Malaysian Hall's canteen, well, I've never been there. I always somehow end up going to Four Seasons or to a friend's place instead.


Location: Formerly located in Chinatown (just a few shops down from the notorious triad-run Wong Kei, now a Korean sundry shop). Now located in Soho, approachable by walking straight down the middle exit of Gerrard Street. Look out for the Malaysian flag propped outside.

Impressions: Oh my goodness. Is this really Kopitiam? How it has changed so much! From the typical canteen look to a more chic New-World look dominated by the dark brown colour of varnished wood. They even provide wine glasses, something definitely absent from their previous premises.

Food sampled: Seafood and egg noodles (海鲜蛋面), teh tarik and soya bean milk.

Comments: Definitely the best noodles I've had in years, convincingly beating the rest! The teh tarik was served in a porcelain mug and was alright. The soya bean milk was authentic, unlike other places which use Yeo's soyamilk, if not a tad sweet. Service was fast and unobtrusive, but then again it was 5pm.

Costs? Around £8 - £10 per person if individual dishes are ordered with a non-alcoholic drink

Recommend?: If the rest of the food is as good as the seafood and egg noodles, definitely!


Mawar: Located amongst the many Arabian places of Edgware Road.

Impressions: Uhoh, I’m back in Malaysia already! Malay was being spoken from many tables, and with the definite Malaysian accent and slang. The oh-so-obvious-you’re-Malay tudung was spotted all over the place.

Food sampled: Beef rendang with rice, sup kambing (goat soup), soya bean milk.

Comments: The food was okay, I have tasted much better in many places in Malaysia. Nothing to shout about, really. Sup kambing was nicely spiced. Soya bean milk was a disaster. Yeo’s soya milk is crap.

Costs? Around £8 - £10 per person if an individual dish is ordered with a drink.

Recommend? Not really.

Warning: Mawar was rated as one of the top 10 unhygienic restaurants in London a few months back.



Location: Hidden away in a small side street off Chinatown, near Pizza Express. The signage outside the restaurant contains the Twin Towers. A second branch exists somewhere else in London.

Impressions: Typical economy restaurant and busy busy busy during peak hours. Expect to share tables.

Food sampled: Seafood and egg noodles, nasi lemak.

Comments: The noodles were mostly bland. The nasi lemak was decent, but definitely not the best.

Costs? Around £8 - £10 per person if an individual dish is ordered with a non-alcoholic drink.

Recommend? Not really. Avoid peak hours if you do not want to share tables; even Four Seasons has the courtesy of asking you if you mind to share tables (and if you don’t, they respect that despite there are only two of you taking up a table for four and the queue is forty minutes long.)


Lagenda Restaurant

Location: Situated at the Holiday Villa hotel, near Bayswater.

Lagenda Restaurant. Picture from Holiday Villa's official site

Impressions: It is in a hotel, and was well decorated with things Malaysian, with pieces of kain songket propped up along the well, et cetera. Almost empty despite it being during peak dining hours.

Food: Char kway teow, satay, nasi goreng

Comments: Satay was a disappointment; we were hoping for something similar to what we could get in Malaysia. We got something similar to the British supermarkets. Char kway teow was so-so, as usual, without the cockles. Nasi goreng was okay only.

Costs? Around £10 - £15 per person if an individual dish is ordered with a non-alcoholic drink.

Recommend? If you are in the area, maybe you might want to go to Malaysian hall instead?



Location: Situated in the sleazy part of Soho at Peter St, directly opposite a few sex shops. More brances exist.

Food sampled: Beef rendang with rice, teh tarik, fried chicken

Comments: This place has an extensive menu and you will get lost wanting to eat all the food you miss from Malaysia. The beef here was tender and melt in your mouth. Thumbs up! However the fried chicken consisted of chicken breast, which isn't the best cut of chicken for deep frying.

Costs? Around £6 - £8 per person if an individual dish is ordered with a non-alcoholic drink.

Recommended?: Yes, but at the moment, Kopitiam which is just a block away has the edge over it.


Oriental Canteen:

Location: Exit to the right the South Kensington Underground station in the direction of the Natural History Museum and you will see it.

Impression: Small, and overcrowded

Food sampled: Crispy pork rice, char kway teow, seafood and egg noodles

Comments: Too cramped and rather rude waitstaff, although nowhere near Wong Kei. They used to have a different menu for their Malaysian dishes. The last time I went there and asked for it, I was told there was no secondary menu. The quality of the crispy pork seems to have no real consistency. Sometimes it is good, sometimes it isn’t crispy at all. The char kway teow here comes with a couple of slices of fish cakes and tastes below par (although my other friends who’ve never tried CKT before liked it). The seafood and egg noodles here are pretty good actually, but not on par with Kopitiam's.

Costs? Around £5 - £7 per person if an individual dish is ordered with Chinese tea.

Recommend? If you’re tight for money (this is South Kensington/ Chelsea after all, don’t expect things to be cheap), and don’t mind sharing tables and being forced to squeeze, go ahead.


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