Other than Leicester Square, which is full of tourist traps, the next obvious place to head towards for affordable Asian cuisine in Central London would be Bayswater area.
Not surprisingly, the many familiar names (Four Seasons, Royal China, Mandarin Kitchen etc.) that lined Queensway are often packed with queues spilling onto the streets. One would need to wait up to forty minutes even with a reservation.
However, unknown to many, there's a small Malaysian eatery tucked in a corner basement in Sussex Gardens, which is just a tube stop down (Lancaster Gate). Bonda Café serves authentic Malaysian street fare that include masak lemak cili api (spicy mackerel cooked in coconut milk) - £4.80, ayam goreng kicap (deep fried chicken in thick soya with red pepper) - £5 and mee goreng sayur (fried noodles with egg, beancurd and veg) - £4.
Though the food was fantastic, the warm service from the staff is the main thing that kept me returning repeatedly and recommending it to those who care for authentic Malaysian food. It kind of reminds me of the eateries that used to populate the bus and railway stations where I frequented as a kid.
If you're considering heading towards Kiasu for a meal, why not try out Bonda Café, which serves better food at a fraction of the price, instead. Believe me, the service is way better too.
Address: 190 Sussex Gardens, Paddington, London W2 1PU
Tel: 0207 4025 111
Nearest Tube station: Lancaster Gate
Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £10 pp
Suitable for: a casual meal with your pal