I do believe I had the best Malaysian meal in London last night.
The evening didn't start off all that well ... it had been pouring with rain all afternoon and I wasn't a happy bunny when we walked into Sedap at about half 7 in the evening. The tiny restaurant space was packed with people and the waiter nonchalantly waved us to the oddest positioned table in the room - pushed up against the wall right in the pathway of the bar/service area, door to the inner restaurant and door to the kitchen. It was one of those tables that was set up because they expected a crowd and there was a bit of an empty space for it in the room. I guess it was pretty evident that I wasn't happy with this arrangement because the one of the waitresses quickly offered to separate a table set for 4 for me (which had a reserved sign when we walked in). Well, I wasn't to say no.
Sedap has a pretty decent menu with the usual favourite curries, noodle and rice dishes. I was pretty keen to try the few dishes I had seen on several food blogs so SM was more or less banned from ordering. I did make exceptions for the roti prata and the prawn cracker requests. I gave in on that those, though I rolled my eyes at the mention of prawn crackers. When the roti prata arrived I screwed up my nose but waited patiently for the waitress to be out of earshot before I let out pretty indignant, "what in the heck is that?". It looked like the a crispy cousin of Rita's failed version of a puri but I really should learn not to judge my food by its appearance. I should know ... some of the food that comes out my kitchen looks like it's been hit by a tornado. Aside from the fact it had been cooked in copious amounts of oil, there was hope upon dissection of the roti. There was good signs of flakiness ... don't think flaky pie pastry but head towards the image of a beautifully crafted croissant. The soft innards as you tear the pastry apart ... The curry was nice too with a just about enough chili heat for me. The sauce was generous enough for that one piece of roti but at £4.80 was pretty steep (you can get roti with lamb curry for £5.50 and an extra piece of roti for £2 - yes, ouch!) but I guess you do get a piece of chicken in the curry which adds to something.
I had been eyeing the portion of Penang Char Kway Teow that had been delivered to the table next to us and couldn't help thinking over and over again to myself, "how small is that portion?!?". To be fair portions sizes are about the same if you had the dish in a Malaysian coffee shop but hell ... this was costing me £7.25 not RM5! Yes, fine ... I'm in London and these are the prices I'm going to have to pay for a small slice of home. The dish itself was very, very good. Probably the best version of char kway teow I've had in London. By keeping the portions small the flavours were beautifully presented and that all important wok hei was definitely there. There was generosity in the ingredients too - 4 large crunchy prawns, sliced Chinese sausage, fishcake, beansprouts, chives, egg ... Even for a non-loving char kway teow person like myself (I like it but have no deep passion for it), I was very impressed.
The Nasi Lemak (£7.60) was also another winner. It was the same chicken curry that came with the roti prata but with a larger piece of chicken and whole lot less sauce - a bit more would have been nice since all the other condiments were pretty dry. The rice was rich with coconut flavours and the deep fried mackeral with the sambal sauce was so, so good! I say that all the traditional recipes that call for ikan bilis should be torn up and thrown into the fire and be replaced by this. Crispy yet tender, and substantial compared to those puny weenie lil deep fried anchovies.
If it couldn't get any better, it did! Another win for the night was Malaysian Blachan Chicken (£6.00). Served pipping hot with a side of sweet chili sauce lightened with white vinegar and swirled little cucumber slices to freshen up what can sometimes be an overly sweet sauce. The chicken thigh pieces (yay!) were juicy and the batter was incredibly crunchy.
I still can't believe it took me so long to discover this place. It's been on my radar for some time now but I've found so many Malaysian restaurants in London so disappointing (my first thoughts go to Kopi Tiam on Charing Cross Road that proved so bad I haven't had the heart to write up a review on it) and a few that are passble (Rasa Sayang sits high on this list). But hey, I'm proud of Malaysian food and if a bit of my country is going to represented abroad, it better be bloody darn delicious!
102 Old Street, London, EC1V 9AY