Monday, January 30, 2006

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


soveren said...

whereabouts is this C&R? sounds interesting

David said...

There's a C&R in Notting Hill, but the one I went to is in Rupert Court, Soho (Piccadilly Circus Station).

Lorraine said...

Oh my god...roti chanai with chicken curry! I'm surfing the web this morning trying to find malaysian roti suppliers in london and found your blog. Selfridges used to sell roti - but stopped about 18 months ago (much to my disgust). What has spurred me into a roti and chicken curry craving is that I read this morning in Cuisine Magazine that Kopi Resturant in wellington (a favourite) has 'suddenly and unexpectedly closed' - heart breaking as this was a significant source of foodie fantasy. LC