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Some Singapore/Malaysian Places, London

• Singapore Gardens, Swiss Cottage

Very good otak otak, (a fish mousse wrapped in banana leaves and grilled). The right spicing. But rather expensive at ~£7-8 for 3 or 4 of those.

Char Kuay Teow, stir fried flat rice noodles is good, with the right balance of textures - crunchy bean sprouts, soft noodles, crisp leafy green veg (cai3 xin1, sorry don't know name in English), egg, prawns. The pork slices weren't necessary (the versions back home don't have it) but didn't hurt. Would have wanted the Chinese waxed sausage. Good flavour, thanks to the proper use of lard and fried fatty pork bits. Wasn't expecting to see versions with cockles here and didn't.

Chendol is also classic. Palm sugar and coconut milk (what's not to love?) and red bean, noodley strips made with rice flour (think trofie) and an agar made with black seaweed.

• Kiasu, Bayswater

Solid kuay pie tee -- a little cup made from fried batter, filled with vegetables (typically the same types that go into poh piah), with a shrimp on top, some cilantro. Could have used some of the Hokkien dark sweet sauce and more chilli sauce wouldn't hurt. But it's good.

The beef rendang is tender and has essentially textbook flavour. Not the best of it's kind, but damn good.

Coconut rice is not really worth it, which makes me think that their nasi lemak is going to be weak...

Teh tarik (literally, pulled tea, where a milk tea is frothed by pouring from one container to another over great heights). This version is ok, could be more frothy, nothing special.

• Nyonya, Nottinghill

Ordinary laksa -- very rich with lots of coconut milk, but it's missing the right blend of spices (plus it doesn't have laksa leaves). No cockles either. But a good amount of prawns. Chicken, fishcake and tau pok (puffy fried beancurd). Could have more bean sprouts.

The nyonya kuih (Nyonya refers to the culture/cuisine created from Chinese/Malay inter-marriage, it's native to Singapore, Malaca and Penang; kuih/kueh = cakes or sweets) is worth trekking out there for; first time I've seen them outside Singapore. 3 types of nyonya sweets in the dessert plate - a chewy yellow one made with tapioca and coconut, a 9 layer cake made with glutinous rice flour, a pandan flavoured coconut custard atop dense glutinious rice that has the perfect nuance of salt to go against the sweetness of the custard. Excellent, especiallly the last variety.

• Makan, Nottinghill

Decent curry puffs, not greasy, fairly fresh, could always use more onion in the filing and more spice won't hurt. But good deal at 2 for £1.

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  1. More on Kiasu - great laksa, probably the best example among the small number that I've tried. The soup is what gives them the edge -- they've added some shrimp sambal to it for an added savoury aroma. Also the proper type of noodles - fat rice noodles.

    The oyster omelette is also very good, with the right amount of gooey tapioca flour.

    6 Replies
    1. re: limster

      I ate in Kiasu last night and had the oyster omelette. It was truly awful - literally a heap of oysters covered in egg. It was a shame - the meal was otherwise OK.

      1. re: Ian

        Aw...that's too bad, I must have been luckier than you. BTW, this is supposed to be more of a scramble of oyster, tapioca flour and eggs, quickly stirred in a wok, and should look a little "messy," rather than than a neatly folded fluffly omelette. One of the accidents in nomenclature, but somehow caught on.

        1. re: limster

          In Singapore I've found the dish to be an omelette studded with oysters, crisp on the edges and soft in the middle. Kiasu's was just a mound of oysters covered in egg. It looked unappetising and tasted almost exclusively of oyster - very little egg. Normally I wouldn't complain about an over-exuberance of oysters but still...

          1. re: Ian

            I had the opposite problem, only had 4 or 5 oysters in mine, which I found a little stingy. It sounds like they have a consistency problem.

            There are several variants in Singapore depending on the influence along the Teochew-Hokkien-HockChew axis, but the most common (at least for me) is more or less like the version there.

            1. re: limster

              Lack of consistency wouldn't surprise me. My previous meal at Kiasu had been really poor across the board. Unfortunately lack of consistency is the number one problem with all Chinese and Singaporean restaurants in London currently. So depressing. :-(

              1. re: Ian

                clearly kiasu is volatile - my one experience was so dismal i haven't been tempted back.

                looks like its worth re-checking out.

    2. For Malaysian try Satay House on Sale Place near Paddington. Been a few times and always had a great experience. (www.satay-house.co.uk)

      2 Replies
      1. re: pcltlon

        Many thanks -- I assume satay would the thing to get there...would love to hear what dishes you recommend there.

        1. re: limster

          Satay House is fantastic. It's all good. Make sure you reserve a table and avoid the one nearest the front door - you'll be disturbed all night.

      2. Some great reccs limster. Can you (or anyone else) recommend anywhere good for roti canai? It has become something of an obsession for me and I don't know where I'll get it once Oriental City closes down. =(

        1. Noticed that C&R has a shop across from the main restaurant in Rupert Court that sells a few types of kueh (cakes/sweets). Got one with rich coconut custard and refreshing agar (nice contrast). Going back for more.

          2 Replies
          1. re: limster

            I've found the cakes available for takeaway from Bonda Cafe in Sussex Gardens (previously Nahar) to be better...

            1. re: Ian

              Thanks! Will try them when I get a chance, any particular variety that you like most?