Back in 1993, Gloucester Hotel (owned by Singapore's Hong Leong Group) opened Bugis Street to offer homesick Singaporeans/Malaysians a genuine taste of home. It was then helmed by Yeoh Teng Chye & Mary Yeoh, the husband-and-wife couple who now runs their own restaurant - Sedap in Old Street. The food then was fab - authentic-as-it-gets Penang fried koay teow, Singapore laksa, Hainanese chicken rice, etc. The daily lunch buffet was then priced at only GBP4.95, an absolute bargain. Things changed through the intervening years though - the Yeohs left, replaced by local chefs - at one point when I lunched there in 1994/95, the Sichuan hot-and-sour soup came topped with julienned egg omelette strips!!
In recent years however, standards have improved once again, and now - legions of Singaporeans & Malaysians resident in London would flock there, especially for its weekend buffets, priced at only GBP9 - consisting of Nyonya curries, Oriental stir-fries, noodles (including the ever-popular Penang fried koay teow), etc. I was there to try their Singapore-style curry laksa recently and, whilst it was not really authentic - the shredded laksa leaves were missing, so were the cockles - it was enjoyable and stil packed enough chilli-heat to satisfy the taste-buds of any Singaporean. Thick rice noodles (also called "laksa noodles") were used, garnished with fresh prawns, tofu puffs, beansprouts, hard-boiled egg and tender chunks of par-boiled chicken breastmeat. The laksa gravy had the correct consistency - not too thick, nor too thin; with enough coconut milk to give it a rich (we called it "lemak") flavor, and served with a little dish of more chilli paste on the side - in case any masochists wished to torture their taste-buds with more heat! Delicious!
A group of Malaysians at the table next to mine were waxing lyrical about the Penang fried koay teow there. Hmm, looks like a return visit might be necessary for me :-)
102 Old St, Islington, Greater London EC1V 9, GB
Bugis Street Brasserie
4-18 Harrington Gardens, London SW7, GB
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