After reading promising reviews of a new Malaysian restaurant from umami and bellaphon, all I had was Malaysian food on my mind – for weeks I was dreaming about laksa and nasi lemak and rendang and char kway teow! It all came to a head two weekends ago when after an opera matinee one Sunday, we took Blai’s friend out for a belated birthday dinner to Rasa Sayang in Chinatown. Between the very hungry three of us, we managed to consume quite a bit!
First up was this beef rendang and rice. For a one dish meal, this was a very generous portion (and this can be said for almost all of their dishes!) of very tender and nicely spiced beef rendang, a very dry and thick curry. I ought to cook it at home one day.
Next up was a nasi lemak, a dish of rice cooked with coconut milk served with sambal (like a chili relish) and fried peanuts and fried ikan bilis (little fishes) and usually a boiled egg too. That’s just the basic version – Rasa Sayang’s came with a creamy chicken curry and some acar (pickled vegetables) on the side. Their rice was very good with the coconut flavour coming through – most cheap ones have barely any coconut milk at all. The only really disappointing thing on the plate was the ikan bilis – they should be perfectly crisp but these were a bit chewy.
For our third main dish, I chose the Malaysian Hokkien mee, thick noodles fried with lots of dark soy sauce and seafood. (To confuse things, Hokkien mee is also a prawn noodle soup and in Singapore, it’s a white and saucy fried seafood noodle dish.) I thought it was the best rendition I’d found in London, with authentic crispy bits (more like chunks!) of fried pork lard/skin scattered throughout.
As we were hungry, I ordered some fried chicken wings marinated with preserved beancurd. The wings were crispy on the outside and savoury throughout. I have a weak spot for fried chicken though and so perhaps my thoughts aren’t entirely reliable!
Oh, and I also wanted a vegetable and I chose the kangkong with chili and belacan. You may also know kangkong by its other names: water convolvulus, ong choi, water spinach, morning glory. This was cooked perfectly, with the stems still having a bit of a crunch. I always seem to overcook it. Anyway, what was really surprising were the little dried shrimps in the dish – they were so crispy and everything the ikan bilis in the nasi lemak should have been!
We cleaned every plate and though we were starting to ache in the bellies, we couldn’t part without trying their desserts! First up, ondeh ondeh, a Malaysian kueh (cake) that I’ve never seen in London before. These boiled glutinous rice (or sweet potato) balls are filled with a gooey melting gula melaka (a brown palm sugar) and rolled in fresh grated coconut. No innards photo for you as I just found it to be easier to pop the entire thing in my mouth! And yes, the gula melaka did burst through. Quite authentic, yes.
Soon after, a plate of kueh dadar, a sweet and luridly green, pandan flavoured pancake stuffed with a mixture of freshly shredded coconut and gula melaka, appeared on the table too. Again, quite nice and chock full of filling.
Along with a few drinks, the total bill was a very surprising and very reasonable £40. And boy, were we stuffed – I might have overdone it with the ordering there. This dinner really caused me to miss my mother’s cooking – I haven’t been cooking much Malaysian food at home lately and that will have to increase (especially after the purchase of a new hand blender with mini chopper attachement!). Ah well, even if I don’t cook it, I know where to go for some delicious food!
5 Macclesfield Street
London W1D 6AY