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Jul 14, 2008 11:51 AM

Satay House, Paddington, London

Solid rendition of chicken satay, the lemongrass flavour more prominent than usual. Good density for the kueh tupat, a rice cake that comes traditionally with satay. Excellent sauce as well. Standard accompaniments of cucumber and raw onion. Very good.

Very well made laksa lemak, the soup had the exact flavours sans the emerald laksa leaves which I've seen only once or twice outside Singapore. It's not as relentless aromatic as the intense version at Kiasu, which used a lot of shrimp sambal, but preserves a certain sort of balance that I liked. In that regard, it was better than the version I had at Kiasu. However, this laksa used what look like mee/wheat noodles, instead of the thick rice noodles that genuine versions employ. They spice it up with coarse slices of red and green chilli, whereas sambal belacan is what we used. So in these other regards, they didn't hold up as well as Kiasu's version. Which one is better will depend on what's more important to you, since no version is perfect and the weaknesses are in different spots.

Nice ice kachang, with more sweet corn than usual. which I liked. Serves in a tall glass rather than on a plate, which made eating it a tad more difficult, but not a big deal.

Pleasant teh tarik (tea with condensed milk) with a little froth, I wished for a bit more froth that comes from pouring the tea from one metal cup to another.

I liked this place a lot, and would more or less put them on par with Kiasu, although the range of dishes are quite different, and this place has more Malay main courses meant to be eaten with rice. will probably go back for more soon.

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  1. Have you been to Kiasu recently? When I went I was fairly unimpressed, and saw Giles Coren note in a review for somewhere else that there had been a change in the kitchens.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Iestyn Morgan

      I was there in May; was the change recent? BTW, what dishes did you have? Would be nice to learn about the duds too. Thanks!

      1. re: Iestyn Morgan

        BTW, got a craving and decided to go to Kiasu again. Char kuay teow was very good - essentially the real thing - correct dark soy sauce, a good level of moisture as it should be rather than say a HK style dry stir-frying, more or less the right ingredients (bean sprouts, green onion, egg, lup cheong/chinese "waxed" sausage), except that it was missing cockles and crispy bits of lard. The prawns, while not always a part of the dish, weren't a bad distraction; if they were cooked a little lighter they would have been better. Wouldn't mind more spicy, but there was enough chilli to taste the heat.

        The ngoh hiong, a nyonyah dish, was poorly made -- should be a super crispy outer layer of bean sheets (yuba) wrapped around a forcemeat of pork and prawns and sometimes liver with crisp sharp bits of waterchestnut embedded in them for a lovely textural contrast. The bean sheet shell was limp, there could have been a more prominent presence of waterchestnuts, and themeat filling was on the dry side. Chilli sauce with that was pretty good. The fried fish balls that came with it was ok.

        Pulut hitam, a dessert of black glutinous rice with coconut milk was very solid.

      2. It is good, and someone told me it's popular with Malaysians from the Malaysian High Commission. It was some time ago I last went, but I particularly liked my dessert - I think it was agar jelly in coconut milk; it looked oddly like a breast implant, but was delicately sweet.

        1. I went following your recommendation, and while the food in the main was good, the service was woeful, bordering on rude and my main (laksa) was served cold and had to be sent back. I think we might have been unlucky with our waitress, the others seemed charming.

          I've had better chicken satay, this could have been more tender. The Mee Goreng, however, was glorious.

          Perhaps we caught them on an off night?

          1 Reply
          1. re: niamheen

            We were at Satay House on 28 Nov, and ordered:

            - Chicken satay: it was edible, but far from the real satays you'd get in Singapore or Malaysia. For a start, the satay was too dry, and obviously lacked the turmeric-tinged basting oil when barbecued; the marinade for the meat was all wrong; and the sauce tasted more like Thai sate sauce than the Malay one (with chunky peanuts) - perhaps the chef was Thai, or were they simply adjusting the flavours to suit Londoners who're more attuned to Thai flavours?

            - Murtabak. Again, didn't have the right balance of spices, and was way too salty;

            - Nasi lemak. The rice is nice - perfect texture, but the sambal prawns & peanuts/anchovies that came with it were underwhelming;

            - Ayam percik. NOT authentic at all!! Real ayam percik are barbecued, basted with a rich, aromatic coconut creme/blue-ginger/onion/chilli sauce. The version at Satay House was a pale-coloured coconutty chicken curry.

            I really wanted to like Satay House so much - first went there in the early 90s. But the standards simply haven't improved much over the years.