Two Singaporean/Malaysian places, Leicester Sq./Chinatown, London
- limster Aug 22, 2008 04:07 PM
Both on Charing Cross Road, the stretch that is approximately the eastern limit of Chinatown.
• Mui & Bay
A solid wan tan ho fun - flat rice noodles with basic wok charring, under a starchy gravy with egg and a variety of seafood (prawns, squid), vegetables and meat. Not as soulful as the version at C&R, where the egg seemed to be cracked raw into the hot gravy for very light cooking. Nevertheless, pretty inexpensive for what it is. No pickled green chilli, but they do have sliced raw ones.
• Malaysian Kopi Tiam
They're newly opened, but this seems to be a reopening for them, from a prior location (iirc, Camden Town). Run by Malaysian-Chinese, and at least one of them is Hainanese. Basic teh-tarik ("pulled tea" - made frothy by repeated pouring from one container to another) could be more forthy, but is otherwise true. Genuine Hainanese chicken rice - solid chickeny flavour on the rice that is cooked in chicken stock, the hint of ginger evident, topped with aromatic crispy shallots. Good poached chicken, fairly tender, deboned (a nice convenience) and generally delicious even if it pales against the very best back home where the poaching is more gentle and the resulting chicken more silky. An ok chicken consomme with scallions on the side.
This place shows promise and I would recommend more people check it out. It's a bit hidden, at the back of the space that houses a sushi bar at the front. Hope to hear more about it, especially wondering about the quality of the other dishes. The roti canai that the next table got looked good, and seemingly resilient and flaky, from watching them tear into it.
I got a takeaway from Malaysia Kopi Tiam last night because of your recommendation, and I really liked it. I am no expert on Malaysian food, but I could tell that it was good cooking, and that someone in the kitchen knows what they're doing.
I'm afraid I didn't try many things, as the meal was only for me. I had the Hainanese Chicken Rice, which was lovely - although I didn't get any of the crispy shallots on the top! It's a very delicate dish, and quite comforting to eat - the rice was delicious, with a lovely sesame oil flavour, and the chicken very tender and succulent. I liked the consome which comes with it too - again, very delicate flavours.
I had the roti cannai too, and it was very good - crispy and flakey at the same time, and not too oily. The curry sauce with it was good too.
I saw someone eating the fish head curry, and it looked amazing - I wish I'd been able to order that too - maybe next time. Thanks for the tip.
adding more stuff from the last few months:
Penang style char kuey teow -- a very solid rendition of the version with a lighter soy sauce, prawns, egg, squid, green onion and bean sprouts, deftly stir-fried at high heat with a nice "wok breath."
Fish bean curd -- good crispy deep frying, decent flavour - fish cake-like in some respects.
Hokkien mee -- fairly good, with an appropriate dose of the dark soy sauce to create the important and deeply flavoured gravy. Good noodles, with appropriate softness.
Curry mee -- another solid item, but very different from the nyonyah style laksa lemak. The curry broth has more intensity from curry leaves and perhaps more earth spices (coriander etc.). Fish cake slices, bean sprouts, chicken cooked in the curry accompany the thin rice noodles.
Kangkong belacan - a good textbook example, brisk but high octane stir-frying, chilli heat and pungence (from the belacan, a fermented salty prawn paste) flavouring the crunchy kang kong aka water convolvulus.
Hakka mee - hakka style noodles, medium thickness, slightly knobby, perhaps signs of it handmade origins (as claimed on the menu), stir fried in a dark soy sauce, with chye sim/choy sum, a green leafy veg, mushroom iirc, and slices of pork.
Carrot cake with sambal - actually it's a turnip cake, but in Singapore and Malaysia, carrot cake is a common name for it. Not bad, decent touch of turnip flavour, stir-fried with the salty pungence of belacan, and plenty of bean sprouts.
Nasi goreng - fried rice, with bits of prawn, chicken and squid. Keropok (prawn crackers) on the side, the standard topping of a fried egg, and garnished with cucumbers. The rice could be a tiny tiny bit more dry, but perhaps it's a bit nitpicky on my part.
Chicken Satay - surprisingly tender chicken breast pieces, an ok but not out of this world marinate. Pretty thick and proper peanut sauce with lots of chopped peanuts cooked down.
Ban Mian - handmade noodles, reasonable texture, not too soft but certainly not al dente. Decent broth, topped with ikan bilis (fried anchovies), along with chye sim/choy sum greens, shiitake, slices of pork.
I'd say that the chicken rice and penag char kway teow are probably my favourites there for now. Will try more as I go along.
Limster, is this Miu & Bay or Malaysia Kopi Tiam? Sounds good regardless. I have been seeking out good Singaporean and Malay food in London for a while, and I have to admit, each time I find myself disappointed. I went to Rasa Sayang with high hopes, just to have them dashed. There was none of the appetising "wok breath" in the char kuey teow (in fact, I would say the renditions I have had at Cha Cha Moon have been preferable). Moreover, whilst the rice in my Hainanese chicken rice was good, and had some lovely flavour from the stock it was cooked in, the actual poached chicken left a lot to be desired.
I shall definitely have to try Malaysia Kopi Tiam and see if it is an improvement.
Woops, sorry about that - it's Malaysian kopi tiam. please do try them so that we can get more info. I've been generally happy with them, although I haven't had a "wow" type experience.
I wasn't that happy with the cha kuey teow at Rasa Sayang either, but I've had better luck with chicken rice (but I had it a few months ago). Thanks for your post - it's great to hear more about them, so we can get an overall sense of the variation. I had the nasi lemak again and it didn't seem as good as the first time, but it was on different days, wondering if it's due to different chefs on duty or just general inconsistency.
Went here last night for dinner. The place was jammed by 7 pm, every table was full.
I tried the pickled veg starter which was really nice, covered in crumbled peanuts. The chicken curry laksa was fantastic, couldn't imagine a better comfort food. Had the hakka mee which was less impressive but not bad. All this plus beer for £25. I was delighted. Good call, limster!
Thanks for the tip, im going to try Malaysia Kopi Tiam on my way to Hackney tonight. I'll report back!
Tried Kopi Tiam today. Hainanese Chicken, Fish Balls and Pig Skin Curry, and Chicken Satay were all quite tasty, but a bit on the pricey side (particularly the 5 pound for 4 chicken satays.) Otherwise it was nice and I'd be up for another trip. Curious about the fish head in a clay pot dish.