Wednesday, 19 August 2009

54 review - Malaysian restaurant at Farringdon, serving Straits food in a club chinois setting

54+restaurant+review+Singaporean+Malaysian+food+in+LondonI was looking through Toptable for a straits food restaurant which I missed. I was pretty confident that I had tried everything worth trying but was proved wrong!

proclaims itself as London's premier Malaysian restaurant and bar. Its pricing is also easily the most expensive among the straits restaurants I have tried. Their 7 course promotion is going at £24.50 while their ala carte main courses are going at an average of £14 each.

Compare this to Sedap which serves decent Malaysian food at around £7 per main course. Was it because 54 uses "naturally reared beef & lamb, seasonal fruit and vegetables where possible and organic produce where possible"? They have European dishes (roast pork belly, pan-fried sea bass etc) alongside their Malaysian specialties. Can a restaurant do both cuisines well? I have always been rather skeptical of restaurants which dabs at an array of cuisines. Nevertheless, curiosity got the better of me and I made a reservation that very night.

54 is tucked away in quiet corner of Farringdon. It is a very small restaurant, with timber Balinese like furnishings. The music overwhelmed me the moment I stepped in. It was very loud, too loud. I had no idea why. Was it meant to be a bar more than a restaurant? I had a headache within minutes of arrival. My dinner date and I had to shout at each over over the din to get ourselves heard. Hardly the place for a quiet dinner. No other Singaporean or Malaysian customers in sight as well. Does that say something about the food?

Malaysian Straits food served under loud music

With trepidation, we placed our orders. We forgo the set menu in favour of ala carte choices . I went for ayam maska kicap (free range-chicken in thick soy sauce, ginger and lemongrass at £12.50 ). Dinner Date went for rendang daging atau kambing (beef rendang in spicey coconut) at £14.50. I was relieved to find that the food was pretty good, surpassing our expectations. My chicken was tender and aromatic while Dinner Date declared his rendang satisfactory - tender with the right tinge of spice, The service was excellent - attentive without being overwhelming. We did not stay for desert however. We were rather full by the time we were done with the mains and the music was annoying me. It got to the point that it was a relief to leave the restaurant.

I can't say that I will return to the restaurant again. While the food was good, the atmosphere was just not for me. And if you are going for the food, I am not convinced that the quality while good, justifies the price. But that's just me. You might just like your straits food served with a buzz.

Address: 54 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3BL
Tel: 020 7336 0603
Nearest Tube station: Farringdon

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £25 pp
Service charge: 12.5%
Taste: ****
Service: ***
Ambience: **
Suitable for: groups sampling a variety of dishes and don't mind loud thumping music

54 on Urbanspoon

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

agreed with your review. out of curiousity and with the 50% off promotion, I went there with my sis. the waiter serving us was really nice. the ambience is nice but the atmosphere does not go with a msian restaurant. the assam laksa soup is too thick. the nasi lemak is not bad. would return for the nasi lemak, but the location is a lil out of the way for me.... Alicia from Malaysia