Saturday, October 07, 2006

Killeney Kopi Tiam, Purvis St, Singapore

Killeney Kopi Tiam, Purvis St, Singapore

Breakfast today was at this little place on Purvis St. The nervous middle-aged woman took my order. Her clouded eyes showing signs of stress and overwork. I chose a Kaya Toast and Half Boil Egg. These arrived speedily and I went back to order some plain toast to go with my (two) eggs. After paying again, she got very flustered and came to me:

"Your toast is already here. You want again-ah?"
"Oh no, I just want some plain toast."
"No kaya?"
"Just bread, thanks."

Her consternation was plain to see.

"Aiyah, this one is toast, how come you don't say you want plain-wan?"

I thought I'd made it 'plainly' obvious by asking for "plain toast", but that obviously confused her because "plain bread" comes toasted as a matter of course. It would seem "toast" is synecdoche for "kaya toast" in this linguistic microcosm.

The bread for the kaya toast was a little stale, and they stinged a bit on the kaya and butter, I thought. I'd expected a bit more given the marketing swathing the shop, "...established in 1919 Killeney Kopi Tiam serves crisp kaya toast...etc." The Half Boil(ed) Egg(s) was tepid, but slippery smooth and perfectly done. I prefer mine a little firmer, but that's because I've always had to make my own and I'm not very good with the timing, so tend to overcook mine. It's just what I'm used to I guess.

This street seems to be the Hainanese street as it's lined with hainanese establishments, although Hokkien was spoken at Killeney.

Pig Organ Soup

I'd forgotten how ubiquitous the Food Court is in Singapore. There's really no such concept in London or Europe. My meals aren't provided for my first two days here, so I found a 24h Coffee Stop just outside from my hotel. There's a stall there specialising in "Pig Organ Noodle Soup".

The price difference between 'Western' and local food is astounding in Singapore. Last night I met up with a former colleague and we went for drinks at the bar on level 70 at the Swissotel. We were hoping for a lovely view of Singapore but the haze from the Indonesian bush fires kinda put a grey damper on everything. It was Happy Hour and drinks were 40% off, but when we got the bill the prices were exactly the same as the menu. Ah, we were told, we were given the special Happy Hour Menu. I think that's a little bit sneaky to say 40% off and lead one to think that the prices would be less than the menu. We bought a snack of chicken wings for $22 (eight pieces). We went on to an Irish bar in Chijmes - apparently I'm staying in the 'wealthy expat' area - where one could order a burger for $22.

I chose not to eat because the drinks were expensive enough, approximately London prices or more for the same. I'd previously had chicken rice for lunch and paid a princely sum of $3. Of course my eyes then bugged-out at the price of my coconut juice, $4 - it's not often that the drink costs more than the food. While I'm on the topic of prices in Singapore, the hotel 'drugstore' sells toothpaste for $3. I think this practice is shameless as the 7-Eleven across the road sells it at half the price.

I also forget about the lack of serviettes with food. I must get myself some tissues if I'm to maintain decorum whilst eating. It's also annoying that they add on all sorts of tiny taxes at the end of things. All food and hospitality bills are quoted with a +++ at the end, e.g. $160+++. "Plus plus plus" - that just sounds stupid anyway, just add it on!

Tea Bone Mind Zen, Seah St, Singapore

This little shop specialises in specially selected teas and teawares sourced from Taiwan, Japan and China. The owner Carrie only carries wares where the artist has had six solo exhibitions - so that the work can be consistent. Personally I think that's a rather high bar to set because you can get artists that might do good one-offs. Each piece of ware is hand-painted and a work of art. I fell in love with a crane-pattern set; I didn't even ask the price because I knew I couldn't afford it.

Umami recommended this shop and tea-house as a lovely diversion during my stay at the Carlton on Bras Basah Rd, Singapore. Carrie wasn't in, but her assistant served me lovely cups of refined oolong tea. I love the idea of the smelling cup and the careful attention so as not to overstew the leaves. She boiled the water on an electric brazier - so picturesque-wan. We had a long chat about the art behind these beautiful wares, their uniqueness and their collectability; unfortunately the names of the artists went in one Westernised ear and out the other. Apparently Bill and Chelsea Clinton are avid collectors of one of the artists.

She served me home-made snowskin moon cake, my first time trying this variety, made by one of the shop's associates. I detected that a kind of bean flour is used for the white topping. She pointed out the fullness of the lotus seed filling and the thin-ness of the coating - delicious.

I looked at several delicate items to buy as a gift for my flatmate Pat. The lily-pattern teacup with porcelain strainer or the porcelain mug with Chinese crystal handle stood out for me. I decided on the mug for practical reasons: it would be rare for Pat to drink Chinese tea but he does like English tea with biscuits.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Street food and beer

DSCF0544 We found a street vendor selling poached snails that were quite delicious with a hint of saffron and herb. Belgium is also very famous for its fruit beers. The most well known is Kriek, flavoured with cherry juice - very refreshing and not at all artificial tasting. We also tried peach and raspberry flavours.



Sunday, September 24, 2006

Les Crustacés

Quais aux Briques 8

This street in Brussels bristles with seafood restaurants. A long walk failed to find anything worthy, but Les Crustacés beckoned with its friendly family run atmosphere and proprietress.

We started with an amuse of very tasty prawns and escargots. The latter we ate with a pin so we could prise out the meat from inside.

collage7Brussels is known for its mussels so we had to have some: steamed in white wine and fine herbs. Of course this comes with chips: homemade, perfectly crisp on the outside and creamily soft on the inside - served with home-made mayonnaise, bien sûr.

For our mains we ordered Lobster (Homard). I was tempted by the Thermidor, but wary of the excessively rich sauce that could disguise the taste of the sweet meat. We elected for a medium lobster split in two and cooked two ways: with garlic butter and flambéed in brandy.

collage8Looking back, the brandy flambéed version was quite inferior. The bitterness of the flamed brandy really came through and kinda ruined the sweetness of the meat. The seafoody freshness was also totally destroyed.

We enjoyed our meals and waddled out replete, ready to visit Frederic Blondeel.

Exotic chocolate in Brussels

Frederic Blondeel is an exotic chocolatier in Bruxelles, Belgium. Here you can find such novel flavours such as dill, szechuan pepper, chilli, green cayenne pepper, black cardomon, green cardomon and blackcurrant.

The husband and wife team that run this establishment are so sweet and helpful.


Although the quality of the chocolate is not as good as a Godiva, the flavours are definitely quite exciting.

Friday, September 15, 2006

An interview: Me on Food and Science

I was recently interviewed on BBC Radio 5 as part of some publicity surrounding a talk I did at the Dana Centre about some science behind food and cooking.

My friend Tim kindly re-recorded it for me:

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Noordrmarkt in Amsterdam

The Noordrmarkt (North Market) has the most splendid array of fresh food I've seen in a long time. Perhaps it's the pollution free Amsterdam air that makes the fruit and veg glow with vitality? Borough market just seems so dusty with the rattling trains overhead.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Cream teas in Devon

Devonshire teas in Ilfracombe, Devon - what could be more authentic? Well, the scones are good, the clotted cream fantastic and the jam pretty decent. St James Tea Rooms are friendly and welcoming.


Steamed sea-bass with potatoes and salad

Take Thyme restaurant in Ilfracombe is a friendly husband-and-wife run place with fresh seafood. The fish is fresh, but don't expect anything fancy done with it. The vegetables are just as plain and simple. For £14.95 and sea-bass with country-town rents I'd expected just a little bit more.

Risotto with asparagus, prawns and hand-shelled peas

No, I didn't shell the peas with my own hands, but I'm sure the underpaid migrant Polish worker did a good enough job. Asparagus, peas and shrimp were from Tesco but the rice is still from that expensive packet I bought ages ago.

I used a stock made with Marigold powder, with olive oil, butter, a small amount of onion and garlic as the flavour base.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Des Cadolor


Seagull feather
Pebbly beach
Crashing waves
Beneath my feet

Verdigris water
On the shore
Tumbles stones
And soothes my core

Tingling breezes
Touch my skin
A gentle kiss
Sent by the wind

Warm wet smells
Of driftwood rot
Find me rapt
Upon this spot

Soft-peak clouds
And lemon-ice sky
Its purple islands
Floating by

Rattle, clatter, rattle
Pebbles roll
Amidst the splash.

Des Cadolor - Intro

Although not food related, I had to post this here as MSN spaces are having teething problems with their migration to, argh.

I'm currently in Ibiza, Spain having a holiday away from my ex-boyfriend. It's been good for me. Today my friends took me Des Cadolor, possibly the most beautiful beach that I've ever been to and definitely the most beautiful in Ibiza. It was so inspirational I wrote a poem seeking to describe my experience sitting amongst the pebbles listening to the surf roll and rattle them around.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Pato Pekin - Santa Eularia, Eivissa (Ibiza)

This afternoon we eat at Pato Pekin, a Chinese restaurant in Santa Eularia. James in our dining party has a severe intolerance to MSG but our Spanish dining companions have never heard of it. They think this place has the best tasting food, maybe because they’ve not realised their Secret Ingredient. The waitresses don’t speak English so I try my halting Mandarin with them. It’s strange having Spanish spoken all around me but trying to converse in a language other than English. I try to explain what MSG is to the waitresses, finally succeeding with “Ajinomoto”. “Ah!” she exclaims, “Ah-hee-no-moto, wei jing,” she pronounces with a Spanish ‘J’ and a marked Beijing accent.

The food is well executed and tasty, if a little heavy handed with the soya sauce and MSG. The chef is not restaurant trained, but a skilled home cook. There are distinct Shanghai and Northern influences, but he’s obliged to make the more popular Cantonese style stir-fries – chop suey is also on the menu. The prices are decent and the set menus for one or two are particularly good value, hovering around €8 to 10 per person; otherwise a la carte dishes are between €9 and 14.

Club Sandwich

My first experience of Western food was a Club Sandwich. My father used to work for the Merlin Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, it’s only 5-star hotel, and had accommodation there as part of his package. It was luxurious by Malaysia’s standards for that time – an actual suite with a living room and bedroom. Of course there was room service too; which was how I experienced these heights of Western decadence.

Sometimes on the few occassions we visited his suite my parents would order room service. The food would arrive on white plates with flat-top silver covers. We had such delicacies as omelette and Club Sandwiches. It was also the first time I tasted parsley – the ubiquitous in hotel food in the 80’s. I was told not to eat it as it was decoration. I persisted anyway and was surprised at its astringent taste.

We never lived at the suite, although I think we may have stayed one or two nights. I think my parents thought that a hotel was no place to bring up a child. My mother worked and so I used to stay with my grandmother who took care of me. I think the reason my parents did not live her much was because this was during a time when my parents were just about to buy a home that would house my mother’s immediate family: her two sisters, her brother and her parents. My father would still stay at his mother’s place as would my mother at hers.

For me the classic Club Sandwich is made with toasted white bread without crusts and cut into triangles. The filling may vary, but must always contain either bacon or smoked ham. Chicken may be permitted, but some sort of fresh component, e.g. lettuce or tomato is also vital. There must be three slices of bread in each sandwich, otherwise it’s just a fat sandwich, not a Club Sandwich. I’m sure there are other definitions about what makes a classic Club, but these are mine.

The BLT Club Sandwich at (£5.95) does not quite fit the ideal, although it was very delicious. The bread was toasted, albeit multigrain and with crusts and curved edges; only two slices of bread were used. The chips were marginally passable, i.e. cooked in fresh oil but not crisp or hot. I washed this down with a Giddy Giraffe (£3.50) smoothy made with papaya, mint and other tropical fruits.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Imli Restaurant

Imli Restaurant, 167-168 Wardour Street, London W1F 8WR
Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Rd
Cuisine: Modern Indian
Telephone 020 7287 4243

Where best to take a friend who has just spent two weeks attending an Indian wedding with family in Toronto than an Indian restaurant in London. A rather odd choice, but he looked forward to experiencing Modern Indian.

Imli is the more laid-back cousin of Tamarind, London's only Michelin-star rated Indian restaurant. The warm orange tones complement the dark wood-grain furniture and Indian accents like beads, prints and the odd sculpture give a chic and stylish feel to the place. Lots of natural light flood the place giving an airy and vibrant atmosphere.

The waitstaff seem to be divided into a sort of hierarchy. The friendly woman who attended us was helpful and knowledgeable, but the others who brought dishes out seemed uninterested, perhaps shy. The manager on the day seemed tense and on-guard.

The highlight of Imli are its juices, made on premises. My thyme lemonade had a herbal and refreshing tang, the mango passion was fragrant with the slight grittiness of fresh passionfruit seeds and the lychee pear juice had a floral berry-ness to it.

Our waitress informed us of the nature of Imli: Indian Tapas. Dishes are priced from £2.95 to £6.95 with most being around the £4 to £5 mark. The portions are small, but it's recommended that everyone order three to four dishes each to share. Nine dishes for three of us was more than enough.

The tender bulgar bean salad had a slight tart aftertaste, perhaps because of excessive bicarbonate used when soaking the beans. This was cooked in flavoursome vegetable stock and seasoned with a hint of asafoetida. The mushroom tikki came as three crumbed oversize nipples, or giant Hershey kisses; deep-fried crispy 'kebabs' flavoured with ginger and coconut. My favourite was the aubergine masala: succulent eggplant morsels in a thick dark gravy, served with rice or pratha. We also had a roasted vegetable salad, crispy chicken wings, deep-fried seafood platter, fish curry, masala grilled beef and pav bhaji - cumin-flavoured vegetables served with a fried bun.

A sweet and rich base of ghee-sauteed onion and garlic provides the general flavour of most dishes. Green curry leaf, tomato paste, ginger, mustard seed and fresh coriander provide variety and accents to the sauces. I prefer lighter, less rich Indian; the dishes were on the satisfying side. On a hot day, I'd stick to the light-and-refreshing section and maybe choose one or two from the other parts of the menu. Just under half the dishes on offer are vegetarian - a sizeable but not unusual number for an Indian establishment.

Dessert provided a small range of exotic treats. We chose an Indian caramel custard with coconut and jaggery, carrot fudge and raspberry and black salt sorbet. My Indian friend informed me that black salt is pungeant, strong and tastes like pork crackling: his father hates it. However, it pleasantly complemented the raspberry, offsetting the berry tartness with a slight savoury edge. The minute flecks of black on deep pink were also attractive. The silky-smooth caramel custard and the bitter caramel sauce paired well with the rich coconut. Our resident expert thought the carrot fudge ordinary, but I found it tasty as it was my first time sampling this. Sweetened milk is reduced with shredded carrots, melon seeds and raisins to give something resembling moist cake-crumbs.

Imli is the perfect location for a quick pre- or post-theatre snack, afterwork drinks and nibbles or a casual drop-in for lunch. The small portions allow one to sample a great variety of tastes and the fresh juices are a must.

Monday, June 19, 2006

£5 or just under in London can get you:

Two and a half cappucinos/espressos/lattes

Two Starbucks/Costa/Caffe Nero coffees

7.8 kg of bananas
3.6 kg of organic bananas

Four loaves of decent supermarket bread

Two one-serve ready meals

Fruit salad with mango pieces and a chocolate bar at Marks and Spencers

Five egg and cress sandwiches from a supermarket

Two egg and bacon, chicken and bacon, or chicken club sandwiches from a supermarket

Two pieces of roti chanai with curry gravy and a teh-tarik from Malaysia Hall

Nasi Campur with three choices from Malaysia Hall

Nasi Campur with two choices (plus some change) from Nahar Cafeteria

Two and a half breakfast-sized serves of Nasi Lemak from Malaysia Hall

A tiny plate of roast duck and undercooked two-minute noodles from Jen Cafe in Chinatown Newport St, Soho

£5 = US$9.20, AU$12.60, NZ$15.00, JPY1068, €7.30, SG$14.80, MYR33.70 (as at 19 June 2006)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Le Domino in Cannes, France

Le Domino Restaurant - 7 rue du Pré - 06400 Cannes, +33 492 980 787

Prix fixe: €13.90, two courses.

Wandering along the streets of old Cannes looking for where the locales eat, we stumble across what must be the only gay run restaurant in town. Perhaps this subtle attractive force could be a new fundamental one - mediated by the homon force-particle? We walk up another one of those charmant winding streets in the suquet to find the only cafe amongst four with bustling tables. Two 40+ trim men with tight cotton t-shirts, identical cargo shorts and military-style haircuts natter away to their customers whilst taking orders. One spots us and cheekily quips, "Depechez-vous vous asseoir, uh! (Hurry up and sit down, you two!)" The food is a good price and of good quality - good value compared to 'film festival prices' down on the Croisette. It's so easy to serve fantastic food when you have great ingredients - decent produce, treated well. I chose a mignon de porc avec sauce miel (pork eye-fillet with honey sauce) and a tarte aux fraises (strawberry tarte). This was cooked well, without ostentation and good value.


Throughout the meal I tried to gather evidence, for I wasn't quite 100% sure, that our hosts were indeed Friends of Dorothy. I decided definitely when Monsieur Un came over and pretended to do a little striptease with his cargo short on the front step to his customers. They pegged us too as Monsieur Deux bustled around and dropped a grand wicker basket of gay-club flyers and other community information declaring in hushed tones, "I'll give you some addresses to go out to, ok?"

It felt so welcoming to find 'instant' community. I've never encountered such warmth from gays before. As their friends and acquaintances arrived, we were introduced to his 'sister' and his 'aunt'. A painter friend asked if I would pose nude for him "or even in your underwear will be ok, no?" Flattered, I didn't think I had the time and politely declined.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Secret Malaysian Hide-outs

I think I've found the cheapest South-East Asian eats in central London. I've previously raved on about C&R Cafe but two recently discovered establishments leave it in the dust.

My mother always made a great deal out of chef pedigree - for how can a Chinese chef make real beef rendang if he (or she) didn't grow up living and breathing it, if it weren't part of the very fabric of their existence. As such, C&R being a Malaysian-Chinese run joint, although doing an admirable beef rendang, is not the best that it could be.

Leon unearthed two Malaysian eateries through his blog-trawling - two hidden gems accessible only to those in the know and completely hidden from public view. They're not advertised and there is no sign. You only know you're there because you're at the correct street number and there are tables and chairs to serve food.

Lest I give away my secrets and overwhelm the establishments with clientele (thus irrevocably changing what I seek to partake with minimal disturbance), I shall remain decidedly vague about their locations and you can email me for me to tell you about them. I expect great favours for my largesse - payments in kind also accepted.

Nahar Cafeteria is in Paddington and I suspect the canteen of the Mara hostel in London. MARA is a kind of technical training institute in Malaysia and why they have a hostel in London is beyond me, but I'm grateful for the extremely authentic Mamak-style food this place makes. This place is very basic with melamine tables and plastic chairs, but who cares - the fish curry is divine and the mee mamak aroma dark with Indian spices. Nasi Campur with 3 choices at £4.50 is the best deal. The menu is extensive and they're open till 11pm. I felt out-of-place speaking in English as Bahasa Malaysia flowed around me; I nearly did, but used English as I could barely string together, "Satu, ini [point, point], terima kasih."

The second establishment, Malaysia House, is in Bayswater and most definitely the canteen for the Malaysia House hostel in the same building. Although a more basic menu compared to Nahar: Nasi Campur (£4.50) and a few variants of mee/nasi goreng/bandung/sup - their ace in the hole is home-made roti canai (£1.50 with gravy). I could not believe it. But 'tis true. It's official that London has better Malaysian food than Sydney.

Very few non-Malaysians know or visit these establishments - a good sign that they cater specifically for the Malaysian palette rather than anything else.

Leon revealed that he prefers the oilier and greasier machine-made roti, simply because that's what he's used to - poor deprived thing. Never mind, I'm going to be eating both our shares of Malaysia House roti. They also do breakfast from 8 to 10am (Nasi Lemak and roti canai).

London has finally lived up to its reputation for being one of the world's most cosmopolitan cities.

Monday, April 24, 2006

S&M Cafe - near Liverpool St Station

S&M Cafe
Originally uploaded by daveyll.

In case you're wondering, the S&M stands for Sausage and Mash. Could it be some play on the Vore fetish? "I'm so delicious, eat me! EAT ME!! Oh please won't you eat me?!"

At any rate, the sausages are delicious but I'd stick to the plain ones. The fancy ones may appeal but the true taste is in the pork.

Good traditional English food done very well - from sausage to mash to gravy.


British pork is very tasty. The take pride in their pork, to the extent that named pigs are now the feature in the top restaurants, "Today's pork chops are from Rosalie. She's a duffel-coated black spot pig raised on acorns and olive oil in the wilds of Surrey." Well, not quite, I exagerate.

But another pang of homesickness made me create these dishes of my family.

Steamed pork mince with pickled cabbage (tung choy)
- I flavoured this also with white pepper, shao xing rice wine, ginger and garlic

Stir fried pork with spicy ham choy

Snake bean omelette.

Flat white Cafe

Berwick St, Soho, London

Antipodeans in London (or anywhere else in the world) will know of that strange epi-phenomenon that is the absence of the otherwise ubiquitous 'flat white' on the standard coffee menu. But o-ho, this is fixed for my resourceful bf has found it: probably the only place in London that serves this exotic drink.

And the name of the locale? Why, Flat White, of course.

An antipodean duo own and run this cafe, which also sells L&P and Bundaberg ginger beer for the same price as a coffee (£2). They also do damn good vege bagels and a decent range of snacks. Service is quick and friendly - you order and pay at the counter and they bring you the food afterwards - just like in Australia/New Zealand. Even the barista's accent brought back memories.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


The Halkin, 5 Halkin Street, London, SW1X 7DJ
Nearest Tube: Hyde Park Corner
Cuisine: Thai
Telephone: 0871 2238097

With much anticipation I finally get to try the great Nahm - the world's only Michelin-starred Thai restaurant. After eating at his first restaurant Sailor's Thai in Sydney several times and reading his extremely well-researched tome on Thai Cookery, I looked forward to tasting the cuisine of the man the Thai government asked to establish a Thai cookery school in Thailand.

We chose the traditional thai nahm arharn meal (£49.50) consisting of 6 shared courses: an hors d'oeuvre, a salad, a soup, a relish or light curry, a substantial curry and a stir-fried or casserole dish. Individual ordering is also possible with dishes ranging from £8 to £15 to suit tastes or budget.

We started with an amuse bouche of mar hor (minced prawn and chicken served on cucumber slices) which was followed by latiang. This amazing egg-net construction encased chewy strands of sweetish-coconut flavoured with crab. The pomelo and crispy trout salad with toasted peanuts yam som oo pla tort was a maze of textures - refreshing pomelo chunks, crunchy fish and reslient lime leaf - flavoured with a sweet and savoury sauce. We'd all elected for different soups and my spicy oxtail soup with onions and tomatoes sup hang wua tasted earthy and rich, full of beef flavour and redolent with mysterious aromatic spices. A chiang mai grilled chilli relish with grilled zander-fish followed. This small red pile of chilli and ground dried shrimp was pungeant with garlic and shallots and accompanied the raw cabbage and vegetables well.

Our two curries followed: an extremely hot jungle curry of chopped prawns with heart of coconut and chillies made me gasp but that is the nature of jungle curries. The chiang mai pork curry with shredded ginger, pickled garlic and shallots had a refreshing and aromatic ginger tang and was again very pungeant with onions.

My favourite dish was the double steamed rabbit with pickled mustard greens (known as ham choy in Cantonese) and daikon. This earthy peasant-style dish with the savoury pickles and sweet rabbit meat married perfectly with rice. We also had a firm and translucent deep fried royal bream with a rather sweet three flavoured sauce.

We dined in subdued lighting in a warm light-golden room decorated with subtle South-east Asian accents, e.g. bright red corded ropes in the atrium. The extremely friendly Thai staff gave elegant and knowledgeable service. Although we were only supposed to have one curry and one casserole she offered to make us two smaller serves of each because we couldn't decide.

An exotic range of desserts beckoned and I had a coconut ash perfumed egg custard with jackfruit - quite delicious.

For most people, Thai food is what's eaten on the streets in Thailand, usually cooked in a blazing hot wok seasoned with fish sauce, lime and peanuts. In reality, this method of cooking comes from the large contingent of Chinese traders that lived in Thailand. The old Thai cuisine as developed before Chinese influence made use of slow coal fires and gradual simmering. As such, you don't get the vibrant fresh flavours associated with stir-frying over high heat but an interesting blends and layers as the slow extraction processes develop and release aromas. I also found the food a little too pungeant and strongly flavoured for my liking, but I'm sure it's authentic and what's proper - I'm just not used to it.

If you like your pad thai and green chicken curry as served in pubs and are expecting just a 'better' version, this place is probably not for you. Nahm is quite a different concept and serves Thai food rarely seen outside of Thailand and the royal houses.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Lunch today - Tapas in my House

The most expensive ham in the world (£7.99 /100g) is Serrano ham (San Danielle) bought in a West End London suburb. It's about half the price in Spain, but the cost of an airfare would have evened things out (just). Although she assured me that it was indeed the acorn-fed pigs, I had my doubts. But she gave me a free sample, and it was just as delicious as I've had in Spain. What you can see in the picture cost me £3.50, eek, but Leon was feeling tired and un-hungry, and I'd made it my mission to tempt him to eat.

I also bought some boquerons (marinated anchovies), giant Kalamata olives and made Matzo brei - an omelette made with rehydrated crumbled Matzo crackers. I'd seen this recipe in the book Garlic and Sapphires. We're having this with warmed seed baguette, roasted red pepper strips, fresh tomatoes and cos lettuce. There's a small square of English blue cheese that you can't see in the photo.

Ayam Masak Merah

(adapted from a Cyberkuali recipe)

Dry spices:
cinnamon stick
anise seed
cardamon pods

garlic - both pulverised in a blender

lemon grass

tomato paste
small can of chopped tomatoes

ground cashews

Trawling the streets of my local Middle-Eastern district, I was hard pressed to find the Indian spices necessary for this Malaysian dish. Lots of pre-made packets of felafel and shawerma spice, but nothing Indian. This dish is usually made with candlenuts instead of ground cashews and star anise, but I couldn't find any on Edgeware Rd. I think the Spice Shop in Notting Hill sell all of what's required (even white Sarawak peppercorns) but as with all things in London, you can get anything you want, at a price.

I should have fried the onions and garlic for longer as a slightly sulfurous raw taste still permeated the dish at the end. This could have been fixed with some sugar, but I'm loathe to add sugar to curry dishes like this.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Song Que Vietnamese Restaurant

134 Kingsland Rd

A whole bunch of work colleagues and I went to dinner at this wonderful Vietnamese restaurant last night. This place serves a great pho, but because this was a group of 10, we ordered more Chinese style dishes to share. However, we did get some of my favourite Vietnamese treats for starting with.

I love Vietnamese food and its use of fresh herbs. It's so distinctive and difficult to do in London. I recently discovered that South East Asian herbs and vegetables are air-freighted once or twice a week from Thailand and surrounds. Outside a grocery store in Chinatown I saw masses of big white styrofoam boxes with labels from Thai airways containing bitter gourd, pea-eggplant and numerous other greens. Song Que does the whole gamut of traditional Vietnamese food with authentic herbs (as well as supply will allow it) and it pulls it off very well. We did notice that they stinge on the herbs and beansprouts if a non-Vietnamese is ordering. I guess these are the most expensive part of the meal and unless you appreciate it, most people might see it as some sort of garnish.

And at £5 for a bowl of pho, you can't really beat that.

Our meal cost £14 a head including beer and wine. Service is quick and efficient but gruff in the usual way - you're here for the food.

Summer Roll
rice noodles, herbs and pork or prawn wrapped in rice-paper with a dipping sauce of chilli, sweet-bean and ground peanuts

Barbequed beef wrapped in betel leaf
served with lettuce, mint, shiso (large purple serrated leaves), pickled carrots and radish and rice vermicelli. Vietnamese chilli dipping sauce

Chicken with chilli and lemongrass
yellow coloured slices of chicken with large chunks of chilli

Shredded crispy beef in sweet and sour sauce
thin strands of deep-fried beef in orange sauce with tomatoes

Singapore noodles
rice vermicelli with shrimps, shredded barbequed pork, beansprouts, onions and light curry seasoning.

Lamb with ginger and spring onion

Freshwater bream with crystal noodles
whole fish with black bean sauce served on mung bean thread noodles (served on a big square plate)

Duck with pineapple
boneless duck pieces in a sweet and sour sauce with pineapple

Tofu, pepper and aubergine stuffed with prawn paste

Pork with shrimp paste
served with cucumber, chilli and other vegetables

Stir fried ong-choy with garlic

Monday, April 03, 2006

Saturday morning market in Poitiers church square

Saturday morning saw us at the local market in the church square, a bit of a French institution. Wow, is all I can say. The freshest, best produce, meat and cheeses I have ever seen. All totally French, the most exotic thing I saw was a vanilla pod, but the myriad of cheeses and strange traditional root vegetables that are unknown to me.

French (goat) cheeses, just a small selection from the local Saturday market

These pink and white radishes were recognisable, but there were also some incredible gnarled deep purple-brown tubers, they looked like fibrous yams or something.

Bistro eating in Poitiers

The other meals we partook at various bistros around the city centre.

Steak cheval hâché avec frites (horsemeat hamburger and chips)

La Serrurerie is a very popular and busy bistro serving what I would describe as French ranch food. Hearty big serves with vibrant flavours. The menu ranges from Soup á l'oignon (onion soup) served traditionally with a big chunk of baguette in the soup, covered in grilled cheese to Thai flavored barbequed prawns as long as your hand.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Restaurant eating in Poitiers

Leon and I went to Poitiers, France a few weekends ago. While the town is charming, quaint and full of old shit (there're about six ancient and crumbling churches alone) it is very small and we really didn't need a whole weekend to experience it.

Our first dinner in France we ate at a local restaurant that was delicious, but in my mind, unremarkable. Nothing too exciting or scintillating here but everything well presented and flavours well balanced. I can't even remember the name, Alain ...something (not Ducasse), within walking distance of Le Grand Hotel (The Big Hotel) in town. We chose the set menu of E32.

Sorry for the crap layout, but I'm clueless when it comes to these HTML thingamies.

A happy smiley Leon with our first plate of French food in France.

Home-made pate with crispbread

Scallop hearts with endive

Pan-fried whole frog with white-wine reduction

Beef with parsnip souffle

Venison with offal and berry flavoured jus

Almond ice-cream, chocolate truffle loaflet, pear and ginger sorbet, rasberry coulis

Waitrose stock duck eggs and these pretty blue hens' eggs. Quite charming with vibrant yellow (almost orange) and thick yolks.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Black risotto

More adventures in risotto have led to this exotic little number. The actual recipe is quite basic: onion and garlic sauteed in olive and butter till soft, then the addition of vialone nano rice and the stepwise addition of stock. The black colour arises from a small sachet of cuttlefish ink added at the end. I don't know if there's actually any flavour to this ink as the stock was quite strongly flavoured.

I'd bought langoustine and fresh black mussels from Appleby's Fish at Borough Market the morning earlier hoping to get the meat out and use the shells for stock. After peeling most of the langoustines and discovering soft mushy flesh, terrible for eating, I put them all into a pot to boil down into a tasty stock. That they did, but I did amp it up with a teaspoon of powdered Marigold vege stock.

The mussels, however, were fantastic. Small, sweet and so juicy with the slightest bit of give when just-steamed. Only 3 out of more than 20 hadn't opened so they were indeed fresh.

Oh, then a drizzle of fragrant truffle oil and a crumbling of pecorino nero before serving and you have a meal fit for two lovers.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Ranoush Kebab

You know those crunchy, tasty brown bits you get when you roast lamb? How they always seem so little when compared with the rest of the roast - it's almost like we make do with the soft succulent pink interior because of the tasty brown bit shortage.

Walking past Ranoush Juice, the lure of the Shawerma kebab called me. I fought it off, but when I saw what was on the vertical rotisserie my tastebuds got the better of me: an entire chunk of rotating crunchy brown bits. I waited patiently while the cashier answered the phone - another belligerant Middle Eastern man with thick black eyebrows. He spoke angrily in Arabic down the phone, then looked at me and made the smallest of gestures with his index finger: I knew what to do.

"Lamb shawerma, please."

He continued the conversation, now sounding mollified but still with a thin edge of violence. I imagined that he was organising the next White Slave auction in Yemen. I paid my £3 and the woman behind me also got the look and gesture, but she had a question so he was forced to stop his conversation and attend to her.

One of the chefs daintily patted the viscous hommous down in the cold tray while I waited for the other to make my kebab. He laid down a small piece of khobez bread, a streak of tahini/garlic sauce, two slices of tomato, a long slice of pickled cucumber and some onion. He shaved the lamb, removing the maximum of crunchy brown bits to reveal pink succulence underneath.

Biting into my kebab rewarded me with juicy pieces of lamb fringed with crispy tasty edges. The meat was marinated with a complex but subtle spice mixture perfuming each mouthful. I'm not used to deconvoluting Middle Eastern spicing so I can only guess at what was present. I detected sumac and cardamon, but also something vaguely floral, rosewater perhaps, although that seems far too delicate for the roasting process.

The way the lamb chunks are speared onto the rotisserie means that all those edges get to go brown and crisp unlike a whole leg of lamb. You can only get lamb and chicken kebabs on Edgeware Rd, unlike the beef ones in Canberra. Mind you, those were never worth getting because Ali Baba only ever used low-grade minced beef.

Ranoush Juice is part of the ubiquitous Maroush restaurant enterprise. The Ranoushes seem to be the cafés and casual affairs whilst Maroushes are sit down restaurants with varying degrees of poshness. These 'oushes are not to be confused with the Fatoush chain (which incidentally is a kind of Arabic salad) that are competitors along with Al-Dar who have three restaurants.

I don't think you can find a tastier hot meat roll for £3 in London.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Comforting Food Memories

Comfort foods soothe mini-attacks of homesickness - or in this case salve the difficulties of new cities and brutish crowds. For me, my comfort foods are a mish-mash of Chinese and Western. Traditional comfort foods such as mashed potato, roast chicken or lasagne seem exotic to me - these are what you'd eat for special occassions.

Some of my comfort foods are:
Chicken curry made with Malaysian curry powder and a hint of belachan
Fried rice with bacon and egg
Egg-rice (daan faan)
Pork with potatoes and soya sauce (lou chi yeuk)
Steamed pork mince with preserved cabbage (ching chi yeuk)

When I was growing up, my mother attended a cake-baking course in the evenings after work. The whole extended family used to look forward to her coming back because she would usually have a slice or several of what she had helped make. Western style cakes where highly prized as exotic delicacies in Kuala Lumpur during the 1980's and very expensive; mainly because the ingredients (eggs, butter, cream, western fruits) where all imported.

I remember my mother sourcing and testing all manner of ovens (well, two) in her cake making endeavours. She'd already experimented with hand-held beaters (unsatisfactory) so invested in a Kenwood Chef. She had some success with what looked like a camp-oven - a round silver dome that sat on the floor with a glass viewport. It used to get very hot and my mother always cried at us to keep droplets of water away from the glass in case the rapid cooling cracked it. Finally she found the perfect baking oven with both upper and lower elements.

This beige and brown cube sat in the store room and presided over many date cakes, chiffon sponges, pizzas and breads. My mum was especially fond of making date cake (which as a child I never saw the appeal of those brown sticky loaves) and bread. I remember once my aunts were using the oven to make a cake. My mum had just come home and asked which tin they used to put the batter in as she saw that all of hers were still in the cupboards. Suddenly my aunts rushed to the store room as they realised they'd put a bright yellow plastic container into the hot oven. It came out looking like a muffin with lurid yellow frosting on the edge. It smelled good, if a little plasticky, but health-considerations meant we threw it out.

During my stay in Australia I started a book of personal mementos and recipes. My mother gave me two of her favourite cake recipes from her baking days. Today, whilst sampling the sushi at the Selfridges food hall, I spied a Walnut and Coffee cream cake. This kind of cake reminded me of my mother and the flavours that she likes in cakes and desserts. Of course this was far too unhealthy and sweet with its sugary buttercream frosting and not nearly nutty enough according to her recipe, but I thought of her when I tucked into my slice.

Sushi at Selfridges

The proprietress at Silverside meat let me in on a little secret about fish in London. She used to be the buyer for the Food Hall at Selfridges and said that the best value sushi in London comes from that very same place: next to the smoked salmon, but not Yo! sushi (heaven forbid!).

I bought a £10 tray of pre-prepared sashimi after watching the chef prepare special trays of takeaway for a Singaporean lady. There were cheaper trays available, but I wanted to try the sweet shrimp and surf clam.

Overall the sashimi is pretty good, better than the Sydney Fish Market, but a poor second to what I've had in Japan - the only other place I've eaten sweet shrimp. In Nagoya, these were crisp, fresh, succulent and almost floral in their sweetness. Here, they were okay, albeit a touch too soft and borderline slimy. The meaty surf clam was tasty and the tuna the best I've eaten outside of Japan. Sydney Fish Market tuna is just not cut correctly and contains a lot of ligament and stringy bits. These red slabs were tender but firm yet melting in the mouth. My favourite sashimi fish is salmon, usually because it's hard to go wrong with salmon, and these large, smooth and thick slices of orange shot with white slid into my mouth meltingly. I didn't think much of the sea bream present, perhaps I should have asked for a customised plate with the wild sea bass. Sea urchin roe was also on offer, but for £5 /100g, it was a bit dear.

One thing I did find disconcerting was the intensity of the soy sauce in those cute fish dispensers. I thought it too packed with flavour enhancer for the delicate fish. I would have preferred a lighter touch.

This sashimi dealer supplies Nobu, my source at Silverside told me. So I feel assured that I have experienced the best takeaway sashimi that London can offer. I didn't find the prices exorbitant either but just in line with everything else in this expensive city.

If I were to have a sashimi party I would order here, but probably stick to tuna and salmon until I've built a rapport with the sashimi-chef and he can tell me if other fish are worth getting on the day.

Church St Market, off Edgeware Rd

We all hear celebrity chefs on TV rhapsodising about the joys of shopping in a marketplace - smelling the fruit, squeezing the vegetables. Until now, I never really understood this as marketplaces, i.e. those quaint jobs with rickety stalls, strange smells and shouting stall holders were not part of my food landscape in Australia. They've always been to me some sort of contrived ideal that didn't really exist. Besides, the closest thing to these olde marketes was the Fish Market in Sydney and even then it was very clean, covered with not a rickety stall in sight. Yes, there is the Farmers' Market in Pyrmont, but linen covered stalls pushing overpriced raspberry juice and fancy sausage isn't really the kind of marketplace I'm talking about. But perhaps the Victoria Markets in Melbourne are the closest to the real thing.

Living in London, the food landscape is very different. Supermarkets rule the roost, but the range on offer, especially in the inner city, is very small - á cause de small shops and lack of space. It's impossible finding fresh beetroot at a Sainsbury's Local or a Tesco Express - you'd have better luck at a Waitrose, but still, it's overpriced. The place for fresh fruit and vegetables is indeed ye olde streete market. Well, not quite so old because the sellers are purely there to make money with no pretence at recreating some Tudor-style shopping experience.

Church St Market near Paddington Station is open everyday except Sundays. Today as I walked down the centre avenue, Arabic women clad in black billowed past, nothing but their dark eyes shining seductively above their veils. I passed stalls selling polycotton sheets and pillowcases, household cleaners and a dubious fishmonger with a flurry of shiny flecks flying around him. A lingerie stall caught the eye of a short man wrapped up in a tweed coat and tea-cosy hat. He fingered the lacy red and gold bustier hanging cocooned in plastic above him - waiting to emerge like a butterfly on the right woman.

I saw the most beautiful eggplant in the world. £3/kg is not cheap but these deep-purple gems were shiny and perfect. The slightly flawed ones, albeit in a very minor way, were £2/kg. Large red capsicum beckoned me and I bought one for 20p. I walked past the two young boys sitting at a fold-up picnic table selling pirated CDs. "£3.50 a CD, any one you like," they called. Later on as I past them they yelled at the two girls behind me, "What you looking at, slag!" More veiled Arabic women, some in wheelchairs waving sticks; floated through the crowd looking for vegetables. The smoky scent of an incense seller wafted past and mixed strangely with that of the Tikka stall which belched charcoal and barbecue smoke around it. I wondered about the poor stalls nearby - those nylon trackpants for £6 each just absorb odours like a sponge.

At the end of the market was a Caribbean food stall selling jerk chicken, curried goat, plantain and other things for £3.50 a small takeaway. I'd just finished munching on a Manoushi (Middle Eastern bread with sesame, sumac and spices) so I was too full to partake. I located some cherry tomatoes for 40p a box and made my way back up Edgware Rd to home. Many shoppers, including myself, also patronised the nearby minimarkets. I bought some tangy Lebanese yoghurt and large flat khobez bread for lunch the next week.

Risotto et alia

The perfect risotto is effortless. With the right rice, it practically makes itself. For our pre-Valentine's day dinner I made us a mushroom and asparagus risotto with Vialone Nano rice. This I bought from the over-priced deli Raoul up the road from me. I wouldn't go there for their traiteur style meals, but they do stock an excellent, if slightly pricey, range of groceries. You can buy risotto rice with truffle, and foie gras in tins here.

I made my mushroom and asparagus risotto with Marigold vegetable stock powder - a bit of a cheat's way of doing it but it is okay, I think. Raoul sell a nice variety of cheeses and there's a crumbling of Pecorino Nero and a drizzle of truffle oil on top. I oomphed the mushroom content by using some rehydrated porcini mushrooms - perhaps a bit too oomphed as there was a hint of mustiness that I would have preferred absent in the resulting dish. Needless to say the truffle oil was also from Raoul.

Above you can see a salade composée with lebanese cucumber, tomato, olives and lebanese yoghurt. Dessert was a Syrian cheesecake I bought from the Arabic dessert place on Edgeware Rd. There is a crispy noodley topping made from semolina on the actual sweet cheese underneath.

Tonight's dinner is a fennel risotto made with chicken stock from Daylesford Organic Farm. There's a wonderful organic butcher up the road from Raoul, Silverside run by the friendliest HK proprietress I've come across. We chatted briefly about how one can place an order for fresh fish and pick it up from her shop as she partners with a Japanese chef to visit the Billingsgate markets on Friday mornings. I also bought some organic chicken marylands that I'm roasting with some lemon rind. I've always liked the taste of organic meat, but I make no illusions as to why I buy it - it's the taste. I don't buy it because it's, "Better for the animals" as a friend's acquaintance liked to justify. For if so, it would be better not to eat them in the first place, right? I vividly remember my grandmother slaughtering chickens in our backyard from childhood. The trick to removing the feathers is to blanch the whole bird in boiling water after it has been bled to death. Once, the bird had not quite died yet and was only unconscious. So, when she dipped it head first into the hot bucket of water, it woke up and screamed its head off. For years I thought that was how you killed chickens - by dunking them in boiling water - but could never figure out why it was usually so silent most of the time.

I've paired the fennel with a hint of thyme - a herb that I'm exploring at the moment. My Italian colleague informs me that finocchio, the Italian word for fennel, also means 'gay'. So here I present: Risotto al'finocchio (Gay Risotto).

Monday, January 30, 2006


We went to Fame (the musical) as my quasi-mother-in-law's present. Before the performance, we ate at Sarastro, a theatre restaurant, near Aldwych theatre bedecked in over-the-top lamps, papier mache, gilt, gold and velvet - very faux-opulent indeed. The food was decent but we weren't that hungry so shared a few starters. These were well executed and tasty but nothing too adventurous in case Betty Blacktown (or should I say Chrissy Croyden?) should get overwhelmed by a flavoured foam.

Apparently most of the waitpeople are performers and during certain times will sing out operatic-style when announcing your order, "And here is the fruit pla-a-a-tt-e-e-er!" Incidentally, this is the highlight of the menu. It is so huge you could never eat all of it. We partook of the strawberries and blueberries, then I surreptitiously packed the apples and oranges in my bag. I stopped at taking the whole pineapple - that would have been uncouth, although I'm assured that it would have been allowed.

Cumberland Sausage

We had a pub lunch one Saturday afternoon. One thing about central London is that it is packed with visitors on the weekend. After trying two pubs with queues of 20 mins or more, we finally found one with a free table. The food is supplied by Nicholsons, who seem to supply numerous pubs in London. I ordered Cumberland Sausage served on a giant Yorkshire pudding.

Leon has already written about this post. My sausage lay nestled, coiled even, on top of a stale piece of "Yorkshire pudding", which was rapidly going soggy with the gravy. Small chunks of carrot, broccoli and leek, microwaved to perfection and then some more, lazily breast-stroked (with the assistence of my fork) in the brown gloopy gravy. But alas, this sausage was not prepared properly. In haste, it didn't have time to finish its toilette before serving and you can see that my sausage did a crispy poo.

Borough Market

If you can find it anywhere, you can find it at Borough Market. Well, unless you want an exotic Asian (Oriental) herb or spice. But for anything in Europe, you will find it here. From exotic game (see the beheaded but still furred carcasses of hare, rabbit and other hanging in the picture), exotic vegetables and even wax-fruits.


Wild game
It's a lovely place for a walk if you can stand the bustling crowds on the weekend. However, one particular acronym kept clanging in my mind as I walked with Leon throughout the market: HACCP HACCP HACCP HACCP. I was shocked at the level of basic food hygiene with regard to the displayed food. Loaves of bread, vats of olives and cheeses left open to the elements - the markets are below a major railway bridge - I suppose train dust imparts a delicate flavour that makes Borough food taste extra special. Raw meat was handled with bare hands which also changed money - Queen Liz and the collective phalangeal dirt of the British public must also contribute to taste. Of particular note is this vertical sausage rotisserie: here you can see how the raw sausages are loaded at the top so that as they cook, the melted fat slowly bastes the already cooked sausages at the bottom. Mmm mmm good, I love my sausages kissed with tepid raw pork fat.

Rotiserie sausages

Wax fruit
Nevertheless, Neal's Yard Dairy really impressed us. The shower inside continuously runs to maintain high humidity for cheese storage. We spent a lovely afternoon looking at the vegetables on display, warming ourselves on this frigid morning with Belgian hot chocolate and marvelling at the legs of Spanish ham ready-to-carve.

Raw quail

The food is not the cheapest in town, in fact one might say that it is gourmet prices. The major supermarkets, in particular Waitrose may well prove somewhat cheaper for many foodstuffs, but the variety at Borough Market is just immense. I don't know of anywhere else in London where you buy beheaded hare carcass.

C and R Cafe and Restaurant

By chance, when I was suffering from crowd overload in Picadilly circus, I walked a back route to avoid Shaftesbury Avenue. I stumbled across Rupert Court and the C&R Takeaway which sold a respectable range of Malaysian kuih. An iridescent green tetrahedron of leaves caught my eye and lo and behold, 'twas Nasi Lemak in banana leaves. I bought one for dinner and I thoroughly enjoyed this tasty treat for dinner that night. Unfortunately, my palate and gut have regained their sensitivity to chili-heat and I had a few uncomfortable moments the following morning. The sambal in this dish makes no compromises (and takes no prisoners). But it was so tasty I couldn't help but eat it all up.

Roti Chanai

When Leon and I came a subsequent night, we ordered kangkung stir-fried in sambal, roti chanai with chicken curry and salted-fish and chicken fried rice. I went into homesickness-relieved raptures when I tasted the kangkung. I love how this vegetable is crunchy yet resilient. The hollow stems and soft leaves give it a wonderful shape for absorbing the flavour of the sambal belachan. The fried rice was also divine. Just the right amount of salted fish to chicken. The roti was...machine mass produced - I know my roti; it features prominently in my father's business - we used to make it ourselves from a recipe handed down from a Malaysian Indian cook but now another Wellington cook makes it for us, and this was not hand made. But to be fair, roti chanai making technique is very difficult to master and intensely laborious. Not only do you have to get the dough correct, the subsequent kneading, stretching and resting processes are crucial to get the correct balance between flakiness and chewiness. Machine-made rotis tend to be oilier and flatter than hand made ones. I think they use modified mass-production puff pastry techniques as the folds and flaking look roughly similar.

C&R is a Chinese-Malaysian restaurant, so you can't really expect them to be expert at everything. My mother has inculcated in me a strong sense of restaurant racial pedigree: she will not eat Malay or Indian curries in Chinese-run Malaysian restaurants. Her reason: "Chinese do not know how to make proper curry" - which is a fair comment as the Chinese-Malaysian curry usually contains prawn paste (foreign to Malay and Indian curries) and a sophisticated understanding of curry spicing (innate to Indian cookery) is not part of the Chinese rubric. Of course this means that she usually won't eat at at *any* Chinese-run Malaysian restaurant because, she being a very accomplished cook herself, can recreate many of the Chinese-Malaysian recipes at home.

C&R attempt to have representative examples of all Malaysian dishes, so you will find Beef Rendang and Chilli Chicken on the menu. I'm sure these will be more than adequate, but as the two Eurasian Singaporean girls on our adjacent table exclaimed insultedly on our second visit, "This is not Chilli Chicken!" I've heard that Mawar on Edgware Road is Malay run, so I look forward to visiting and sampling their Beef Rendang. Satay House in Paddington is reputedly patronised by the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Average price: £7 to 9.
More pictures