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Mar 14, 2009 02:03 PM

Anyone been to Sedap on Old Street, London?

Saw this Malaysian place on my way to the Modern Pantry. Anyone eaten there? Will probably try it soon myself.

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  1. Ooh haven't seen this place - thanks for the tip! I'll try and grab lunch there next week :)

    How was the Modern Pantry?

    2 Replies
    1. re: DollyDagger

      I liked the brunch at the Modern Pantry, very light and fluffy goat curd pancakes, but you have to like the goaty flavour, which I do. Full report forthcoming. I'll probably consolidate that with a dinner there one of these days before posting.

      1. re: limster

        Limster, I couldn't say for sure if I liked those pancakes the first time i had them, but I didn't stop thinking about them for a week after and went back the next weekend by myself right when they opened to have them again. I love those pancakes. (Their service leaves a bit to be desired though.)

    2. I've tried it, Sedap is amazing! Really delicious and authentic Penang food. Read my full review here:

      1. The chicken satay is very tender, but a touch more scorching at the grill would be better. The marinate is nice, but not the absolute best of its kind. A fairly thick and reasonably flavourful peanut sauce, which wasn't bad, but I always had a soft spot for those with more chopped peanuts. But not bad on the whole, and perhaps better than most versions I've had lately.

        I really liked the char kuay teow -- the level of moisture on the flat rice noodles is perfect, soft and wet, never crossing into mushiness and retaining a nice wok flavour. Big prawns nicely cooked from teh fairly deft stir-frying. Also with fish cake and perhaps sparing slices of chinese waxed sausage (lup cheong). Bean sprouts for textural contrast and green onions iirc. Had they added fried crispy pieces of porky fat and given it a prominent lardy flavour (e.g. like Singapore Garden in Swiss Cottage), it would have been an outstanding version. Nevertheless, I'm a fan of this rendition, and would certainly go back to try more and especially intrigued by their nyonah kueh (not available when I was there) - little cakes and sweets from Peranakan cuisine, that arose from intermarriage between Malays and Chinese (mostly Hokkien).

        Noticed on the newspaper cutting outside that the couple who runs the place used to operate an apparently well-regarded buffet at the Copthorne Hotel in Penang.

        6 Replies
        1. re: limster

          Oh my gosh, by that couple, you meant Yeoh Teng Chye and Mary Yeoh? They were the husband-and-wife chef team who helmed the famous Penang buffet at Princess Terrace, Copthorne King's Hotel here in Singapore from the late-80s until they left for London in the late-90s thereabouts. They were running Nyonya in Notting Hill till recently. Their cooking skills are legendary, especially in Nyonya kuehs!

          In fact, there was a discussion on the Penang buffet at Copthorne King's Princess Terrace on one of the threads in the Greater Asia board yesterday.

          I'm DEFINITELY stopping by Sedap when I'm in London later this year.

          102 Old St, Islington, Greater London EC1V 9, GB

          1. re: klyeoh

            I wasn't very impressed by the laksa at Nyonya when I tried it last year, but they did have very good kueh, which is still exceptional at Sedap. Although not everything is perfect (e.g. rice flavour in nasi lemak is weak), the high points are very high. Been trying different things there slowly and will provide a more consolidated report later.

            1. re: limster

              During their decade and a half stint at Princess Terrace, the Yeohs' forte (besides their kueh) were the Penang fried koay teow, the Penang laksa (sourish sort, not the curry Singapore Katong laksa variety), nasi ulam (which is impossible to find anywhere else in Singapore!), kerabu bee hoon (another rarity), besides the chicken curry, pig's stomach soup, stewed pig's trotters, belachan fried chicken, assam prawns, Penang Nyonya otak-otak, Penang Hokkien mee, duck soup with mee suah, pasembor and Penang fruit rojak.

              The Yeohs seems to have altered their offerings in London, but from their Sedap menu, maybe you can try the kerabu salad or kerabu prawns & belachan chicken the next time. They've never been known to cook Singapore-style laksa when they were in Singapore. BTW, I've never heard of roast duck curries in Malaysian/Singaporean restaurants, so I guess the Yeohs were catering to London clientele who're familiar with Thai roast duck curry.

              1. re: klyeoh

                Their sambal is superior - more aromatic and shrimpy than usual. I don't remember seeing any assam laksa on the Sedap menu, but the chicken curry that came with the nasi lemak had much more depth than most. It was after tasting it that I started trying the curries rather than the hawker dishes. And yes, I've never seen a roast duck curry either when I grew up in Singapore.

            2. re: klyeoh

              Has Nyonya in Notting Hill shut down permanently or changed hands now? Last few times I passed, its windows are covered and looks like its closed or being refurbished... Anyone know?

              1. re: peekaboo1

                Since the Yeohs are now running their own restaurant, Sedap, there's every likelihood that Nyonya would have shut down or else be completely revamped. I heard that Nyonya's owner is Singapore hotelier, Ong Beng Seng, who was instrumental in recruiting the Yeohs from Singapore to helm Nyonya in the first place.

          2. Outstanding Penang-style Peranakan cooking, on par with some of the best I've had back home.

            Archard - pickled carrots, turnip and cucumber is spiced up and made more aromatic with sesame seeds and crushed peanuts, but it could be more lively, with more oil to carry the flavour.

            An elegant kerabu vegetable salad, driven by the balanced dressing of sweet and lime-y sour, with a airy savoury note from cilantro and refreshing strips of mint. Julienned crunchy cucumber, with sparse strips of black wood ear fungus, nice as a colour contrast, but not enough to make a textural impact.

            Beef rendang is also exceptional -- the correct tenderness from long simmering, the sauce reduced just right, with a prominent and poised tang (lime leaves? lemongrass?) amidst deep spice and richness.

            The sauce of the lemak fish is lighter - aromatic but with more mellow spicing, and perhaps a stronger play of curry leaves. Excellent fish - tender yet firm.

            Buah petai prawns is yet another in a line of outstanding dishes -- spot on spicing, just the right about sauce, nutty beans, delicate prawns given just the right amount of tossing in a wok.

            Sambal brinjal makes a brilliant statement for sambal -- incredibly fragrant shrimp paste, nutty, spicy, intensely shrimpy and the perfect shadow of pungence, balanced with the faintest touch of sweetness. Beautiful presentation too - each slice of brinjal/aubergine is sliced, cooked to an ideal softness, while the purple skin remains stiff, a rim to keep the sambal topping in place.

            With the sambal okra, the sambal is more judiciously applied, but just as delicious, enhancing pieces of perfectly cooked prawns and okra.

            The nasi lemak could use a bit more pandan and coconut fragrance in the rice, but the earthy chicken curry, like all their sauces, impeccably put together, the spices extremely well tuned, stronger in the coriander side of things, in a base of coconut milk. On the side, a gorgeous piece of deep fried mackerel, crispy skin, moist flesh, topped with spicy punagence samabal sauce, deliciously heavy with belacan. Perfect hard boiled egg.

            Tow Yu Bak is pork belly braised in dark soy sauce ("Tow Yu"), with nuanced notes from clove and star anise.

            The spicing and saucing is outstanding, each dish with lucid, vibrant flavours tweaked exactly right. I suspect the main dishes to be eaten with rice are going to be stronger than the more hawker-ish dishes like laksa. Will have to see.

            Of course, I can't leave out dessert. Their nyonah kueh is incredible - little gems of sweetness and flavour, and I'm raving about them as much as I raved about the ones at Nyonyah, where they used to cook.

            A cassava cake (Bingka Ubi) enticingly sweetened with what I thought was palm sugar (or due to caramelisation), with the exact level of soft chewiness.

            Kueh lapis (not the Indonesian version), is a layer cake of different colours, made from glutinous rice flour in a (iirc) background of pandan.

            Probably one of the best and most aromatically pandan-sweet kaya (a "custard" made from coconut milk, egg and pandan) tops a pressed slab of glutinous rice, spotting black grains amidst the white. They sell the kaya separately as well, awesome on toasted white bread.

            A wonderful hint of salt brings out the flavour of coconut milk in the kueh talam, consisting of a white layer of coconut custard, and a green layer of full of sweet pandan flavour.

            I was very pleasantly surprised by the richness of the tea in their teh tarik, tea with milk that is given a frothy top by repeated pouring between two containers. There's a part of me that wonders if there's a pinch of spice in there or palm sugar, but it's a wild (and likely incorrect) guess.

            P.S. nyonah kueh are exceedingly perishable despite the modern wonders of refrigeration, and freshness makes a huge difference in deliciousness (something less fresh is still edible, but the deliciousness level drops considerably, and the textures loose their delicacy). I'd strongly recommending asking about when they're making each batch of nyonah kueh and going there within a couple of days (typically, they start a new batch when the old one runs out). To optimise your experience, you'll need to eat around their kueh-making schedule.

            2 Replies
            1. re: limster

              Thanks Limster - this is a very comprehensive roundup! This sounds like it has the potential to meet my expectations on Malay food in London, finally. Fingers crossed anyway - will try it out in the next few weeks.

              1. re: Sharmila

                Hopefully I'll get a chance to try more items soon, it's been easier with a big group.

            2. Chiming in to add that I had a fantastic lunch here last week. Great char kway teow and a sublime teh tarik. The service was extremely kind, to boot. I'll definitely return sometime soon!

              2 Replies
              1. re: mark_s

                Love the char kway teow, but wish there was more of it. The portions seem small. Are they?

                1. re: loobcom

                  I think they are on the small side for the main dishes (I estimate about 1.5-2 main dishes per person), but the hawker-ish noodle dishes seem ok (though not generous by any means).