Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Sedap

Oyez, Oyez, Oyez!

I hereby announce that I'm revoking my recommendation for this place. The portions served here are miniscule; Sedap takes the ultimate piss. You want Char Kway Teow, go here instead, you want Laksa, it's better and bigger here, you want rendang, well you can't do much wrong here...Sedap, take heed, you might be kidding your diners for now but not for long
.

Avoid

19/04/09

St Lukes Church on Old Street
This is a contemporary Malaysian restaurant interior (not the most exciting but purely functional), any different it would'nt be Malaysian anymore!
Malaysian Blachan (sic) Chicken- Tender crispy fried chicken marinated with homemade prawn paste & served with sweet chilli sauce.
Easy eating but no belacan to taste of.
Tow Yu Bak- Tender pork stewed for hours with special sweet thick soya sauce.
Sweet and relatively addictive.
Beef Rendang- dry beef curry
textbook, obviously very good
Lemak Fish- Sea bream cooked with spices, herbs and rich coconut milk
Very good but too expensive, considering lack of prime component that is the fish
Tonight's dishes were all packed with flavour and evidently well concocted. The dishes do indeed err on the small side which rule Sedap out of the good value category. £40 for two without booze is not cheap! Otherwise one of the best three Malaysians in town.
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Sedap is Malay for yummy and this place certainly lives up to it!

Thank heavens for the wonders of social networking and of course blogs. Once again I have Samantha Tan to thank for, first Malaysia Kopi Tiam and now Sedap. You can read Samantha’s review here.

Sedap is a Malaysian restaurant with pedigree. This Malaysian restaurant is barely two months old and is owned and run by the Yeoh family from Penang. Husband and wife, Teng Chye and Mary Yeo used to run the kitchen of the Nyonya restaurant in Notting Hill Gate and prior to that the prestigious Copthorne King’s Hotel* in Singapore. Nyonya started off with rave reviews; the architecturally enhanced joint attracted the right beautiful people and the quality of the cooking made this place demi iconic. But then it went downhill, all pretty quickly and at the time of writing it’s already shut (usual excuses with ‘refurb’ plastered on the premises). I avoided Nyonya like a plague, as I was appalled with the service; IMO its mismanagement, arrogance and ignorance quite simply brought the place down. Five years later the Yeohs, together with their two daughters, decamped (effectively cutting ties with their backer at Nyonya) and started Sedap on their own in Old Street.

Nonya** (my preferred spelling) is a combination of Malay (the woman-nonya) and Chinese (the man-baba) both in marriage and thereby culture. This intermarriage process was rife back in the latter part of the 19th century in Malaya, but these days dare I say it, this kind of relationship in modern Malaysia is discouraged unless the topic of religion is insistently taken into account. Nonya cuisine is the perfect synergy of both cultures; its cooking is by enlarge always a step ahead (i.e. flavours, taste, etc) of either the straight Malay or Malaysian Chinese cooking. Unfortunately this technique of prepping and cooking is progressively dying out, as the younger descendants are more preoccupied with the lifestyle of the 21st century. Once again we Londoners are a lucky bunch, we have a true Nonya Malayisan restaurant at our disposal.

Old Street is in a decidedly loveless part of London that’s sandwiched between hip Shoreditch and up-up-and-away Clerkenwell. Sedap is done up in a usual fashion whereby an uneasy compromise between a café and proper restaurant was reached based on the constraints of budget or the interior designer was a failed architect. Actually the last observation might be a bit below the belt, what I should really say is that all Malaysian restaurants look like this anyhow, whether it’s in Sydney or Ulan Bator. Front of house this evening was managed by the most wonderful person of Julie Yeoh (one of the daughters). This genuinely cordial lady not only waits on you but she’s also responsible for making the cakes and pastries as well. Double tasking of waiting and cooking; not an enviable job.

I couldn’t come here and just order one dish and be off. This is where solo dining starts to be awkward, everything on the menu beggared to be ordered; how I wished that there were more dining companions with me (which is a bit rich since I eat best alone and if pressed, one companion only). I pigged out on two of the one-dish meal standards of Nasi Lemak and Char Kway Teow.

I could already smell the coconut drifting from the rice when Julie sauntered in with the tray towards my table. The rice was lovingly cooked and as confirmed, wonderfully fragrant. The chicken curry was properly served on the bone (this breast meat thing gets on my nerves, brown meat like thighs and drumsticks are best for stews and curries). Now each country will tell you they have the best curries in the world (don’t despair there are no curries in India), the Malaysian Chicken Curry is certainly up there in the top three!

The curry at Sedap passed with flying colours as well as the fried fish smothered with a delicious red-hot sambal. Two complaints I have with this accomplished dish; for the price, half a boiled egg was mean and the lack of anchovies (I know there was the fried fish) meant Nasi Lemak isn’t Nasi Lemak without it.

The hawker favourite of Penang Char Kway Teow had the right colour about it, the golden brown hue is indicative of authenticity. This was a perfectly executed dish. Scrumptious and spicy (best tell them to hold the chilli if you’re wimpish).

I’m not entirely sure if the word Penang had any significance on this dish, as far I’m concerned plain Char Kway Teow is Malaysian and it is consistently more euphoric tasting than the Singaporean version.

As I was somewhat perspiring from the heat of the chilli, Julie brought a gratis plate of Kerabu salad (she stressed that her Mum had made it earlier) to cool me down. Kerabu is a salad that comprises of cloud ears (well I didn’t want to say it, black fungus), cucumber and fresh mint, all dressed with limejuice and sugar. Woah, this was indeed refreshing, a terrific salad for the forthcoming summer. As stated in my previous posts when dining Oriental or South East Asian, the ying and yang elements are an absolute de rigueur. The ying of the salad balances out with the yang (chilli) of the two main courses. The same goes for Dim Sum, ensure that the fried varieties are complimented by the steamed ones.

I consumed for two this evening and I’m thus even more corpulent, my finger points resolutely at a certain Ms Tan (I’m not one that takes personal blame that easily!). What a tip, Sedap is great for the both the food and service. I’m coming back pronto for the Laksa, the Rendang (Hi S-L!), Belachan Chicken, etc. Thank you Julie and family and of course Samantha once again. Highly recommended without reservations.


* my vexations concerning 'hotel' food in my review of Melur is thankfully not replicated here at Sedap.

** Peranakan to be exact.

102 Old Street
London EC1V 9AY

www.sedap.co.uk

13 comments:

Su-Lin said...

OMG, I am so going there! I remember that the char kway teow at Nyonya was sublime and there it is again in your photo! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

Samantha said...

woo hoo, you tried it!:) glad it went down as well with you as it did with me. You are truly welcome, actually the credit goes to my partner Arivind who chanced upon it on the way to work!

Great 2 choices for your first time, I highly recommend Hainanese Chicken Rice the next round. Let me know if you try anything good that I haven't!

bellaphon said...

S-L- Awaiting your review in anticipation. ;0

Samantha- Why thank you, Arivind. I nearly plumped for the Chicken Rice first time around, I shall do so next.

Mark Ngui said...

Brilliant! I look forward to checking this place out.

Mark Ngui said...

And yes, I'm almost back... problem is that I'm too busy microblogging...

bellaphon said...

Mark- Microblogging...I'm too 20th century!
Welcome back pal! I saw your Mum's Laksa on your photostream, it looked like a difficult act to follow!

Kake said...

Went there for lunch on Monday — really liked it! That kerabu salad is amazing. (My review's up on RGL, some photos are on Flickr.)

bellaphon said...

Kake-
An honour to have you commenting on the blog. Dare I say we'll bump into each other soon!

Kake said...

Aw, that's a nice thing to say :) Would love to meet for lunch or a drink some time if you're interested — always keen to meet more foodies. Drop me a line at kake@earth.li if you like!

bellaphon said...

Kake- brill idea, I'll contact you at some point.

Samantha Tan said...

Nice 2nd write up:) I actually haven't managed to make a follow-up visit yet, the tow yu bak looks luscious!

By the way have just started a food blog of my own, recipes as well as reviews. Pop by if you've the time :)

www.bakecookeat.blogspot.com

meemalee said...

I'm so going - especially since both you and Kake have bigged up the kerabu salad so much :)

I know nowt about Malaysian food - I nearly went to Jom Makan till I read your review.

By the way - have you seen the latest in Time Out?

When are food blaggers just meal blaggers?

bellaphon said...

Nice place, but don't go there too hungry as the dishes err on the small size. Jom Makan disgraces the term Malaysian.

Woah on the TO article. I read it several times and I thought it was coming sooner or later. By all accounts I found it to be veritable and just; of course the majority of bloggers would be up in arms and demand her head. Unfortunately the ‘below the belt’ description of ‘advertorial’ rings true, some of the bloggers’ reviews I’ve read blatantly reflect that. Perhaps TO could've got away without mentioning any names but this is the press and not an indie blog; black and white writing is what I admire and these days they’re few and far between. Like I said before I don’t have issues on freebies or bloggers’ events but to the non-blogging readers, it would be an immeasurable favour to them if each and everyone of the foodie bloggers clearly state their intentions to include any reviews involving all things gratis from the onset. The onset here means the 'about me' page or blog intro. By doing this the readers know where they stand with the overall feel of the blog.

As for blogger eat blogger with connotations to ‘dog eat dog’, I’m still vehemently against the practice of bitching and backbiting by direct name-dropping; it’s unforgivable!