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Rasa Sayang

5 Macclesfield Street, Chinatown, London, England, W1D 6AY, United Kingdom

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This Malaysian restaurant opened in Chinatown in December 2008, and was packed with Asian diners on the night of our visit. It is a basic dining room with small tables packed together, no tablecloths and limited distractions from the food. There are surprisingly few Malaysian restaurants in London, and Rasa Sayang (which roughly means “dear taste”) therefore has some expectations to live up to. I used to travel to Malaysia regularly some years ago, and have fond memories of the simple but tasty dishes that could be found in Kuala Lumpur and Penang. 

My favourite dish from this cuisine is beef rendang (£6.80), slow cooked beef with a dry, spicy curry. Ideally the meat should be practically falling apart, but in the version tonight there was still a distinct hint of firmness, even chewiness, about the texture of the meat (11/20). Better was roti bread with a coconut-based curry sauce, the bread more like an Indian paratha, and very enjoyable, with a pleasing texture and buttery taste (13/20). 

“Garden selection in hot curry” (£6) was a coconut-based curry that was, for me, rather thin, using perhaps too much coconut milk, the vegetables rather lost in the dish (11/20). Singapore noodles had decent texture, with a couple of prawns and, as garnish, a few pieces of severely overcooked, rubbery scallop (11/20 if I politely ignore the scallop, something that I am trying to banish to the darkest recesses of my memory as we speak). Gado gado had decent peanut sauce but some rather hard tofu (10/20). Better was non-slimy stir-fried okra with a sambal space that was pleasantly spiced (12/20). 

Service was friendly and the redeeming feature is the fair prices, with no dish above £7.  The busy dining room suggests that they are doing something right, but the Malaysian restaurant of my dreams has yet to open in London.

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  • matthew

    as noted, Awana in South Kensington is the place to go. Not cheap, though they have 50% off offers most days except Saturday peak. The name Rasa Sayang is of an Indonesian song pinched, much like their cuisine, by the Malaysians. Sadly, Bali Bali is the only real Indonesian restaurant in London.

  • Shamin Talib

    Quite sad to read about a Malaysian restaurant receiving a poor rating, however I would have to agree. Having tried several of them, none seem to have the authenticity as I would get at home...why bother, I wonder. By the way I think the dish you're describing is 'serunding', not rendang,gen*.

  • Patrick

    Have you ever tried Awana Andy in South Kensington? Although I've never eaten at Benares I can imagine the two are quite similar - you can get better elsewhere for half the price.

  • gen.u.ine.ness

    Andy, Rasa Sayang can also mean 'Feeling of Love' and the name refers to a folk/ children's song. A tidbit about beef rendang is quite an odd dish in terms of cooking technique since the beef is first boiled in salt water before being stewed (with coconut milk and spices) before being fried when all the liquid evaporates. Tastes best after you have left it to keep for a few weeks.

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