The Satay House is a long-established (opene 1973) Malaysian café in a quiet street near Paddington. There is a ground floor dining room, and a similar sized area downstairs. It is casual, with no tablecloths, a clientele that included plenty of Malaysian diners, and an eclectic mix of waiting staff (our waitress was from Chicago, for example). Chicken satay (£6.10) was served in the traditional way on wooden skewers, with peanut sauce and a garnish of onions, cucumber and rice cubes. This was, given that the dish is what the restaurant is named after, rather disappointing, the chicken itself cheap and a little chewy, though the peanut sauce was fine (maybe 11/20). Gado gado (£5.60) was a pleasant dish of mixed vegetables, rice cubes, tofu and a different (and better) peanut sauce from mine (12/20).
The main courses were a very mixed bunch. Beef rendang (£8.10) was very good, slow cooked beef cooked in spices and coconut milk that was so tender it was falling apart (13/20); this was as I recall the dish in Malaysia. Also excellent was nasi goreng, stir-fried rice with prawns, egg and mixed vegetables, and well-judged spices (13/20). By contrast, udang galah goring belempah (£10.70) was king prawns, rather overcooked, in coconut gravy served with peppers and mixed spices. In this case the spicing seemed one-dimensional, and the prawns themselves were poor (10/20). I was also unimpressed with roti canai (£4), essentially an Indian dish of roti bread with a side dish of balca (curried mixed vegetables). The problem here was the bread was slightly burnt, and hard when it should be supple, while the side curry was just dull (10/20). Sloppiness was apparent in the cooking too: a few broad beans were not podded, and there was a piece of tin foil that had been left in the rice, not a big thing in itself but careless.
Service was friendly, though there were long gaps between the dishes. The restaurant itself was packed out, and it is clearly doing something right to be prospering after so many years, but I was rather disappointed overall, especially given that the nasi goreng and rendang were both very good, suggesting a kitchen that can deliver when it tries. Prices are certainly fair but I am still looking for a restaurant in London that is close to the food that I have eaten on several visits to Malaysia.