We walked into Rasa Sayang in Chinatown last night more out of curiousity than anything else. It’s been a while since I had Malaysian-Singaporean food in London, whilst my 3 Malaysian companions had never tried “Malaysian food”, London-style.
Honestly, we didn’t have high expectations but, even then, the food at Rasa Sayang came up short – hardly authentic nor passably good :-(
- Nasi Lemak, Malaysia’s unofficial national dish. Rasa Sayang’s version used tinned cconut milk instead of fresh one (understandably here in the UK) resulting in a less than “lemak” or “creamy-rich” flavor of the rice – but I found it strange that the rice also contained a star-anise scent. I’d had rare occasions of clove-scented nasi lemak (still a no-no to purists), but Rasa Sayang’s version was strange. Also, disappointingly, no “pandan-leaf” scent. The chicken curry was rather bland, whilst the watery “achar” pickles was a nightmare;
- Hainanese chicken rice- this came up more decent, although I’d had a version which tasted inestimably better here in London more than 15 years ago at Singapore Garden. Rasa Sayang’s rice lacked the oily-rich, garlicky, gingery taste which we Singaporeans (and Malaysians) treasure above all in Hainanese chicken rice. Again, the”pandan” scent was missing;
- The prawn & pork noodles in soup: seemed to be Rasa Sayang’s take on Penang-style Hokkien prawn mee, except that their soup stock lacked the prawny-porky robustness requisite of the dish, and was also way too salty. Also, inexplicably added squid & fish balls;
- The other side dishes we ordered were also odd: “Kueh Pie Tee” had green and orange-tinted fish roe topping, whilst authentic “pie tee” in Malaysia have crisp, brown shallots & sprigs of coriander. In Singapore, we sometimes add minced hard-boiled egg, too.
- The deep-fried spring rolls had curried potato filling, reminiscent of triangular-shaped Malaysian samosas. Again, we failed to understand why Rasa Sayang chose to unnecessarily tweak the dish – why not stick to authenticity?
Looking around, we noticed no other Malaysians-Singaporeans amongst the diners on the ground floor dining area we’re seated at - I guess that should have been a giveaway.
I thought the best Malaysian/Singaporean spot in London remained Sedap at Old Street. Their cuisine had also been slightly tweaked to suit local tastes, but at least remained decently tasty.
As for Rasa Sayang, well, we were sorely disappointed.
102 Old St, Islington, Greater London EC1V 9, GB
5 Macclesfield St, London W1D 6AY, GB
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