SEDAP: WORTHWHILE MALAYSIAN ON OLD STREET
It might not have been the best time to try Sedap, a relatively new addition to Old Street’s dining offerings, but after a long journey back from Wiltshire we were both hungry enough to have almost digested our lovely meal at The Red Lion and definitely in need of something to soak up the two bottles of wine, two pints of beer and little digestifs.
HP suggested we stop off on route to casa DH and give Sedap a try and, at about 7.30pm on a Saturday evening, lots of other people seemed to have had the same thought as it was packed, primarily it seemed with students from the nearby private halls of residence.
We were squeezed into a tiny little table in the back room and handed the menu. It looked familiar, not just because I have eaten quite a few Malaysian meals in the last year, but also because, as HP pointed out, it was run by the same people who once owned Nyonya in Notting Hill and offered a similar range of Chinese Malaysian dishes.
HP left the ordering to me and we began with some archard, pickled vegetables, which had the required crunch, but perhaps lacked sharpness. A roti prata was better, with the flaky disc of dough being used to mop up a lamb curry and reminding me of the roti and dahl I had for breakfast every day during my all too short time in Kuala Lumpur.
Three main courses followed, all looking the part and all hitting the alcohol sopping upping spot. The weakest was perhaps the beef rendang which paled behind the one I made recently at home using a recipe provided by my friend and excellent food writer, William Leigh. It lacked the depth of flavour of long, slow cooking and the powerful end note of heat that I enjoyed in William’s version.
Penang Char Kway Teow was better, with the noodles cooked so they still retained a bite and the seafood contents still crisp from stir-frying. It lacked the chunks of pork that I have enjoyed in the best versions and was cooked in oil rather than lard. This was something I also encountered in KL and was told was not only a nod towards health but also made the dish more approachable to Malaysia’s large Muslim population.
I have never quite got my head around Hainenese Chicken Rice, a dish of poached chicken with white rice, which I know Singaporeans particularly claim as their national dish and is beloved in Malaysia too. It just strikes me as bland and, if that is the desired effect, then Sedap’s version is bang on the mark.
That little lot of booze blotting paper, brought the bill to a reasonable £40 including service, which was harried but very friendly.
Sedap is hardly going to set the world on fire, but as a new little local joint, particularly one that does take away, it is going to be a welcome addition to an otherwise barren neighbourhood.