Monday, 3 August 2009

Satay House Malaysian Restaurant review - does it serve the best satay in London?

satay+house+malaysian+restaurant+review+London+PaddingtonAfter staying for some time in London, satay has become a delicacy and my willingness to pay a premium for good ones is getting a bit absurd. Over here in London, I would not bat an eyelid paying for £6 - £7 for six sticks of satay while paying for more than S$1 (40p) per stick back home is almost unheard of.

Last weekend, I had a sudden craving for satay. Though I am more than satisfied with Puji Puji's lamb satay, I thought I would give Satay House Malaysian Restaurant a try for two very simple reasons: it's the first name that turn up on Google with the keywords "satay London", and I have heard rave reviews of the restaurant from my friends who had been there.

Our party of four arrived at Satay House Malaysian Restaurant on Sunday evening. Although the restaurant is in the vicinity of Paddington, the closet Tube station is Edgware Road, which is a mere 5 minutes stroll away. Along the way we passed through many Muslim theme stalls, which reminded me of Geylang Serai back in Singapore - it did look like the Satay House might be the real deal after all.

satay+house+malaysian+restauran""We were greeted with a friendly waitress when we stepped into Satay House who asked us whether we made a reservation. Even though only two of the tables were occupied (there were around six tables on the ground floor and more in the basement), it seemed that more customers were expected later. Upon hearing that we didn't make one, the waitress showed us to a table that was set beside some lighted incense, presumably giving out whiffs of appetite inducing aroma. As one of us was sensitive to incense smoke, we requested to have it removed and it was done without any fuss.

Satay House's menu looked rather extensive but our attention was obviously focused on two items: satay and murtabak. After confirming with the waitress that the murtabak was freshly made and not prepared from frozen packs, we ordered the satay, murtabak, mee goreng, nasi lemak, nasi goreng kampung, sago gula melaka and bubur pulut hitam. And yes, we were hungry.


satay+house+malaysian+restauranThe lamb satay (6 sticks at £6.10), which cheaper than Puji Puji's, were also smaller in comparison. I was rather disappointed to find that it was not grilled over charcoal (unlike Puji Puji) thus lacking that 'smoky' taste. Also, the peanut sauce that came with it was rather watery and the peanuts were too finely grounded to be appreciated.

The murtabak (£6.30), however, was not too bad. The meat fillings was amply packed into freshly pan fried dough. Though it wasn't the best that I have tasted, it did bear some semblance to the murtabak back home. The teh tarik (£2.60) was average tasting and could do with a bit more foam.

Mee goreng (£6.60) was served in a relatively large portion. With some prawns and a sprinkle of vegetables at the top, it did remind me of the hawker fare in Malaysia. Kudos to the chef for recreating the 'smoky' taste as well.


The nasi lemak at £7.80 was one of the pricier main dish on the menu. The rice dish came with half a hard boiled egg, a smattering of crunchy peanuts and ikan bilis, cucumber slices and sambal prawns. As I ploughed through the dish, it was apparent the I was paying mostly for the sambal prawns (four of them to be exact). The sambal spice was obviously toned down and I didn't even break a sweat even gulping down an entire spoonful of it. There was a whiff of coconut fragrance in the rice and that was it.

There must be something about fried rice here in London that is distinctly different from back home. I suspect it is the rice that is used. The nasi goreng kampung (£6.30) was prepared using long grain rice, which came across as thinner and tougher as compared to the Thai fragrant rice that we were used to. However, being drier, the long grain rice that Satay House used was more suitable for fried rice (nasi goreng). When asked how his rice tasted, my dinner mate replied, "Ok lor…". That wasn't too enthusiastic, was it?

satay+house+malaysian+restauranThe dessert turned out to be a treat. The sago gula melaka (£4.40) came in a sizable portion. Instead of having the sago dispersed in gula melaka, it was served as a circular jelly. That went well with the gula melaka, which sweetness was just to my liking. Bubur pulut hitam (£4.40) was one of the better ones that I had tasted in London. Its consistency was not too watery and much thicker as compared to the one served at Bonda Café. That said, considering the difference in price (almost double), I guess that the better quality was to be expected.

Though the meal at Satay House Malaysian Restaurant was overall more than satisfactory, it fell short of expectations considering the rave reviews given, especially with its satay, which gave the restaurant its name. In fact, if you are gunning for satay in London, you would definitely be better off going to Puji Puji instead. However, given Satay House's proximity to Paddington train station, it would probably remained as one of London's favourite places for satay. Its extensive menu alone is well worth a visit even if you're not heading there for its satay.

Address: 13 Sale Pl, London, W2 1PX
Tel: 020 7723 6763
Nearest Tube station: Edgware Road

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £15 pp
Service charge: 12.5%

Taste: ***
Service: ****
Ambience: ***
Suitable for: group gatherings and a sampling taste of the Malaysian cuisine

Satay House on Urbanspoon

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Dutchie said...

Hubby also prefers to hv his satay grilled over a charcoal fire. However, I hv not achieved making the satays succulent like the ones in SG. Probably due to the lean meat sold here.

This past weekend, as a treat to ourselves, I made Lor Mai Kai which was good. The Sunday curry chicken served with french loaves were too mild. The aroma of rich spices were sadly lacking. Hubby thought it might be the masala getting old or that my taste in food is slowly changing. For me, not getting the satisfaction I so longed for after an afternoon slaving behind the hot stove, is just utter frustrations. Í tend to shy away from such disappointments until hubby starts asking for them again ... n the same circle repeats itself.

U r fortunate that London has restaurants serving asian food (n instant satisfaction !)closed to what we used to hv back home, albeit at premium prices.

Just curious, dont u try making the dishes at home first b4 taking the short cut eating out ?

C K said...

Hey Dutchie,

We do it the other way round; we eat out first before trying to recreate the dish at home. lol, checking out the 'competition' I supposed.

Naturally, I'm not the person cooking for my wife's the better cook. She's much more patient than me and I tend to throw everthing into the wok. I'm best at fried rice.. you get the idea.

Even then, we're hopless with curries and prefer to stick to Prima Taste for that. As for lor mai kai, it failed miserably. No loss, it's not exactly my favorite dish anyway.

To tell you the truth, my mum's not that great a cook anyway so I guess it rubbed off on me in a way. She's not going to be pleased when she sees this. :p