Rasa Malaysia (which translates from Malay as ‘Taste of Malaysia’) is a newish spot located in Berjaya Eden Park Hotel Bayswater, touting supposedly authentic Malaysian chow.
The restaurant also probably had an eye on the expat Malaysian community in London, which tend to favour Bayswater for its roast duck restaurants and the ever-popular Malaysian Hall Canteen.
What we tried:
- ‘Assam laksa’, the famous rice noodle dish from Penang with its trademark hot & sour flavors, spiked with prawn paste. It has the requisite taste, but the portion served was miserly, and one hardly discerned any fish flakes in the gravy. Let’s put it this way, if one’s first ever taste of ‘assam laksa’ was here, instead of back in Penang, you’d would have been consigned this dish to the dust-heap of history as one of the most regrettable item you’d ever had the misfortune of putting into your mouth.
- ‘Nasi lemak’, often regarded as Malaysia’s national dish. Decent version here – coconut-scented rice, garnished with a couple of small morsels of spice-marinated fried chicken, ‘sambal’ (chili) prawns, hard-boiled egg, crisp-fried ‘ikan bilis’ (anchovies) & cucumber. The coconut milk used was the canned variety, but still fine. The prawns had a bouncy-fresh texture whilst the sauce in which it was cooked was perfect: spicy, sour, sweet.
- ‘Roti canai’, crisp & flaky here, was great. For the uninitiated, the ‘roti canai’ is Malaysia’s take on Indian ‘paratha’, specifically the Keralan variety. Over at Rasa Malaysia, one can order it with either chicken or fish curry – both cooked Malaysian-style: thick, spicy and perfect to dunk pieces of the ‘rotis’ into. Both versions of curry we tried were tasty.
- ‘Mee Mamak’, a spicy fried noodle dish of Indian-Muslim origins in Malaysia. I’d say this is the best-executed dish in this restaurant: perfect blend of textures (soft Hokkien yellow noodles, crunchy tofu & fritters, ‘choy sum’ vegetables, beansprouts, shallots, egg) and flavors (slightly sweet, tomatoey, chilli-spicy). The one dish I’d come back for.
- Desserts: the Malaysian ‘kuehs’ served here were an unmitigated disaster – ‘kueh salat’, in the form most Malaysians would recognize, is a beautiful two-layered cake: the bottom layer being fragrant steamed and compressed pearl-colored glutinous rice, scented with coconut milk; topped by an upper layer of firm eggy-milky steamed custard which is tinged slightly olive-green by fresh pandan juice, which also lent it an aromatic fragrance. The version here (see pic) used artificial coloring which resulted in a shocking radioactive-green custard, so poorly made that the artificial coloring had also seeped into the glutinous rice. Tasted absolutely disgusting and was worse than any fake Malaysian ‘kueh’ I’d ever had in my life. Eclipsed even the previously "worst nyonya kueh spot in the world" I encountered earlier this year in Chennai, India - Bee's Kopitiam (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/844589).
The other ‘kueh’ was probably ‘kueh bingka’ – I’m just guessing here (seriously) because it was *so* bad, anything cooked by a pre-pubescent child in Home Science class in a Malaysian elementary school would probably taste better. I bet my bottom dollar – the ‘kuehs’ here are *not* cooked by a Malaysian chef, because they bore no resemblance to what Malaysians would know those ‘kuehs’ to be. Absolutely amateurish, half-hearted effort here, and an absolute sham.
If based upon the nightmarish Malaysian ‘kuehs’ alone, I’d never recommend anyone to try this restaurant – which is a pity because the ‘mee mamak’ was pretty decent.
Berjaya Eden Park Hotel
London W2 3JS
Tel: 020 7221 2220