PUJI PUJI: PRAISEWORTHY MALAYSIAN ON THE BALLS POND ROAD
If further proof were needed that London is one of if not the most multi cultural city on earth, then I suggest you do as I did and spend a morning at The Hommerton Hospital in Hackney waiting for a blood test.
A cursory glance and eavesdrop around the waiting room confirmed the presence of Chinese, Japanese, Indian, African, Caribbean, French and German patients, two orthodox Jews and a nurse who apologised for the delay while he completed one of his five prayers sessions of the day.
I didn’t recognise anyone from Malaysia, so decided to rectify that with a lunchtime visit to Puji Puji, a month old restaurant on The Balls Pond Road, part of my attempt to complete HP’s challenge to eat in London places representing all the countries visited on the EAT MY GLOBE trip.
Joined by my Australian friend, Chelsea (there’s another nation ticked off) we were the only customers in the smart little dining room with its dedicated Satay bar and could see, both in the room and the menu, that considerable care and thought has been put into everything by the owners, exiles from the food court at Oriental City.
They offer a lunchtime special of a main course served with two chicken satay, which Chelsea chose, supplemented by my own selection of lamb satay and Beef rendang.
To begin, a couple of Malaysian breakfast staple, Roti Canai, which were smaller and more doughy than they ought to be but came with a really well made split pea dahl.
Chelsea’s Mee Goreng turned out to be a slightly parsimonious plate of noodles with a few chuncks of chicken and slivers of vegetables through it. Even at £5 it seemed dreadfully poor value for money. The chicken satay, however were terrific, meaty and spiked with turmeric and chilli.
Lamb satay were better still, some of the best I have eaten in fact and it was apparent why the owners had enough faith in their skewers to dedicate a whole bar section to their serving. Beef Rendang too showed a real knowledge in the kitchen. A small portion with big flavour, the slow cooked beef still requiring a bite and the sauce offering one in return.
Puji Puji has no licence, but you can BYOB. The do have a selection of soft drinks and a lychee juice contained enough fruit for us to fashion a rudimentary dessert. Rose syrup and lime juice however smacked of cordial and was left alone by both of us.
Including service the bill came to exactly £30.
Puji apparently means “praise” in Malay, so doubling it up may be shovelling it on a bit thick. However, praise is definitely due for a welcome new addition to the neighbourhood, particularly when they had their previous home ripped from under them.