After an interesting experience at Pak Awie last summer, the beast, being a brave beast, returned for another sampling of Malaysian cuisine this time at Sedap, a Malaysian-Chinese restaurant located near Old Street.
There’s been some speculation as to whether Sedap serves up Nyonya cuisine. Nyonya cuisine is generally referred to as the result of intermarriages between Chinese immigrants and the local Malays, which produced a unique cuisine whereby local ingredients such as chilies, belacan (Malaysian shrimp paste) lemongrass, galangal, turmeric, etc. are used. Bloggers such as the London Foodie say Sedap is not entirely Nyonya but is as close as you will get in London to the real thing found in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. AsI have not had the great fortune to travel to any of these places, I will have to take his word for it.
Quite a different atmosphere from Pak Awie’s Edgware Road located establishment, Sedap’s vibe reflects its East London location — cafe style restaurant with tables and sparse decorations.
Food highlights were the ‘transparent’ vegetarian spring roll with egg, crisp and refreshing and looking like a piece of art.
The Malaysian blachan chicken, tender crispy deepfried chicken marinated with homemade prawn paste and served with sweet chili sauce was also quite good, yet the shrimp paste’s strong flavour was a bit lost in the deep frying process.
The lemak prawn, cooked in rich coconut milk was creamy and delicious, perfect over the steamed rice.
Sambal blachan, fresh chili pounded with shrimp paste, is a Malaysian condiment and also the basic building block for many Malaysian recipes. Sambals are pounded, puréed, or finely chopped; made with chili, shallots or onions, and garlic, the pastes also incorporate a wide range of ingredients, like shrimp paste, palm sugar, and lemongrass.
Beef rendang, which has its roots in Indonesian/Malaysian cuisine, is a rich and tender coconut beef stew which is meant to explosively flavorful. Unfortunately, Sedap’s rendang was not very authentic in this regard — the curry was too creamy and lacking in strong flavour.
Value for money at this place is I have to say, atrocious. The beef rendang came with four pieces of beef which meant each person at the table only got to eat one piece of beef. According to the beast’s insider source, The Rahman Noodle, Malaysian food is meant to be shareable and the portions were not big enough to make that possible. The portion size of all the dishes was quite disappointing especially for the amount each dish cost — the chicken satay was £6.25 for four skewers which again, meant everyone paid approximately £1.56 for one tiny skewer. Not cool.
Beef with black bean sauce, one of my favourite Chinese dishes to order in the States was a bit of a let down as well — the beef was quite chewy though the black bean sauce was spot on in consistency and flavour.
All in all, if you’re looking for restaurant based on affordability (value for money) and for sharing plates, Sedap is not the place to dine. However, given the surprising and sad lack of Chinese or Malaysian restaurants in the Clerkenwell area, Sedap, by default, might be a place I’ll be returning to get my Chinese fix.
102 Old St EC1V 9AY
Tel: (020) 7490 0200
For more fun reading about all things Malaysian, Chinese, and Nyonya cuisine check out the following pages: