All posts filed under “Malaysian

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C & R Cafe: (Wonderful) Stinky Malaysian Beans in West End Alley!

Ticking many boxes

Don’t expect too much from this Malaysian place. Tucked in an alley off Rupert Street in Chinatown, C & R Cafe is one of those cheap, sterile-looking oriental eateries that don’t always get everything right. BUT. I was not dissuaded by the glaring fluorescent lights or the cobalt blue tables. During my two visits, the promises were in the food. It began with an ethnic crowd and a bustle of sort every time that I walked past, which was justified by the pricing of no more than £7.50 per dish. And, in the end, it was the extensive and inviting menu of uncompromising Malaysian flavours. Two words – “petai” and “shrimp paste” – convinced me enough to give this cafe a go.

My two meals were pretty much a powerhouse of decent Asian flavours. Sambal Ayam Gorent (£6.50) was this naughty dish of spicy deep fried chicken wings with cleansing fresh herbs (coriander and chervil). Moist and succulent, the wings were tossed in chilli sauce that had been infused with oil, shallots and tomatoes. The heat was both balanced and enhanced by the sweetness from the shallots and the diluted acidity from the tomatoes. Sambal Goreng Telor (£6) was an alternative for egg lovers. These hard boiled eggs were deep fried and cooked in a dry and piquant (as in dryer and more piquant than in Sambal Ayam Goreng and without tomatoes) chilli relish. This would be ideal with steamed rice. I couldn’t help getting very excited seeing Petai with Sotong (£7.50) on the menu, but I won’t recommend this to just anybody. Petai, or stinking beans, are typical to Malaysian/Indonesian cuisine as well as in some Southern Thai dishes. Slightly bigger than broad beans, the petai are notorious for their rancid smell (and the nefarious effect in your toilet the morning after). To many, this stir-fry version at C & R Cafe with baby cuttlefish, onions, chilli and shrimp paste will be a test of endurance. Personally, I loved it. The crunchy, pungent beans were expertly sauteed; the cuttlefish was pleasantly springy; the concoction of chilli and shrimp paste oozed wonderful fishy fermentation. Still, I insist, it was an acquired taste (and a damage to your nostril in your own bathroom). Universally likable were C & R Rice Cake (£7) and Hainanese Chicken Rice (£6.50). The rice cake, also known as Chaye Tow Kuey, is a common snack dish in a few Southeast Asian countries. It has a Chinese origin and features steamed mooli cake, which is cubed and stir-fried with preserved turnip, egg, dark soy, chives and beansprouts. The C & R version was passable. I found the cakes, though fluffy and light, too mild and flour-y, while the stir fry combo did not come together as distinctly in term of taste. (I much prefer the versions at Cha Cha Moon and +65 Supper Club). The chicken rice, however, was delicious (not as OMG as Old Town 97 next door) and generously portioned. The poached chicken breast was adequately tenderised and served with a gingery soy sauce; the rice was nicely cooked in garlic perfumed oil and stock and retained bites; the chilli sauce on the side formed a ballistic contrast and set my tongue on fire.

C & R Cafe offers enough authenticity, enough boldness and enough boundary-pushing options that will account for my return. And, these two meals below were, definitely, among the better ones I have had in Chinatown.

 

RATING: 3.5/5

C & R CAFE

4-5 Rupert Court
London
W1D 6DY

Tel. 020 7434 1128

www.cnrrestaurant.co.uk

C & R Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Malaysian Hall Canteen: Bayswater Basement Glory

This is one of those authentic Asian places I have picked up while socialising at Grazing Asia Charity Supper Club last month. (Thanks, Will!) A Malay-only basement canteen in London’s Malaysian Hall, a kind of budget residence by Malaysian government for Malays in Bayswater, London. From Monday to Friday, non-Malays are only allowed in if accompanied by a Malay. (That’s it!! MAKE FRIENDS !! QUICK!!!) But, the hall is opened to all at weekends.

No, please don’t expect glam. The canteen looks positively a place for expats. Dead cheap food – some are cooked to order – plastic trays and self-service… Oh and the Malay flag and the menu – should I say the name of dishes instead? – draping the wall! If you don’t have enough background knowledge in Malaysian cuisine, you just point at dishes of your interest and enquire what they are.

As it happens, I don’t have much background knowledge in Malaysian food. Got some curry puffs, a portion of beef rendang, fried egg and rice, and Roti Chennai with an optional curry sauce of your choice. Lamb it was for me. Rendang was probably the best I had in London. Tender beef. Well spiced. Salty-ness first and then an aftermath of chilli. No compromise on fiery-ness. Cooked-to-order roti was crispy on the outside and soft inside. Strong lamb aroma with spice in broth-y curry. A touch of friendly heat. Good curry puffs but could have done with some more meat ratio vis-a-via potato. Truly decent, magnificently authentic and ..

The SHOCKING thing was… all this came to just about £10!!!!

So.. GO.

Simple as that..

And if you can’t make it at weekends, look for a Malaysian friend. I’d recommend hooking up with Tamarind & Thyme. She is knowledgeable awesomeness :)

PS THIS IS NOT A DATING WEBSITE..  so don’t take my recommendation the wrong way -__-”!!

Enough said,

My head rating says, “8 out of 10″.

My heart rating says, “7 out of 10″.

MALAYSIAN HALL CANTEEN

30-34 Queensborough Terrace
Bayswater
London
W2 3ST

Tel. 020 7985 1262