KIASU: DON”T BE AFRAID
HP, in his inimitable way has taken to calling me “workhouse” in reference to my current, er freelance status.
It is true that, with EAT MY GLOBE threatening to eat up all of my hard earned live savings, I am having to be a bit more careful. But, I am not in penury yet.
Mind you, if things do get that bad, I have three words that will solve everything “Gay For Pay” where I am sure a fine piece of ass like me will be able to make a tidy living felating a twenty something on Bearsdotwinks.com.
Still, for the moment, it does mean that out of the window go your fancy schmancy places and into view come that scariest of notions in London, Cheap Eats.
If, like me, you always thought that budget dining in London means a slice of dead dog at a kebab shop off the Caledonian Rd, then places like Kiasu come as a welcome surprise.
Open for about five months opposite its sibling Chinese place, Kam Tong on Queensway, Kiasu offers Malaccan food from the Malaysian Straights. A hybrid of the cooking of just about every country in that region, it particularly specialises in the combination of Malay and Chinese with the odd Vietnamese and filipino dishes thrown in for good measure.
The name, apparently means "afraid of being second best" in the local dialect and the wall is covered with slogans like " afraid of my wife" and " afraid of the dark" Perhaps they could put one up there for me saying " afraid to be broke and on the streets"
A Nasi Lemak is probably the most well known of all dishes from the region combining coconut rice with crispy fried anchovies, chicken, prawn sambal, peanuts, achar and the obligatory hard boiled egg.
A sizeable plateful, strong on flavour with the turmeric coloured achar having its roots in the same genetic pool that gave us piccalilli. A way of pickling vegetables in spices and vinegar to preserve them.
The chicken was slow cooked so it fell off the bone and the prawn sambal came with some welcome cooling cucumber to douse the fiery sauce. The anchovies and peanuts added both salt and texture.
I am still getting used to this budget thing and, if I had stopped there, which would have been ample, I would have been in and out for under £10 including a beer, which is good going anywhere these days.
But, I had my eye on a plate of Char Kway Teow which I had last tried on a visit to a hawker’s market in Singapore. A classic noodle dish it combines flat rice noodles with prawns, egg, Chinese sausage and bean sprouts and comes in two styles. With dark soy for the Singapore style and with light soy for the Penang style.
While not up to the Hawker’s market, this was a pretty good example. Plump prawns, sausage that required a bit of chewing and noodles that still had a slight bite. In itself a perfectly adequate lunchtime dish or one to share in the evening with other items on the menu.
More than enough for me and I got the bill. With the extra dish, still well under £20 including tip and for enough food to feed two people.
Other dishes that caught my eye were the Filipino pork adobo, the Pai Tee (pastry cups stuffed with pork & prawn) and the Curry Mee (egg noodles in a curry gravy)
Well worth a visit and, if I can stick to this sort of budget perhaps the only thing I will have to go down on in the future is a plate of noodles.