Sunday 9 September 2012

Sedap: a little slice of Malaysia

Malaysia is one of those countries which has never really taken off for foreigners.  It has more beautiful beaches than Thailand (Perhentian Islands), a more diverse array of cultures and, in my view, a more interesting cuisine.  Despite this, people always seem to skip on by.  Trips to South East Asia always  involve Thailand, perhaps Vietnam and Cambodia, and a flight out from Singapore.  This is a great shame as, having spent a year in Malaysia growing up, I think it has to be one of the best places around (especially when you are outside the hustle and bustle of KL).

But while the people, history and landscape are all impressive, it is the food I love the most.  Sat at the crossroads of centuries old trading routes (Melaka/Penang), Malaysian cuisine is a blend of Indian, Chinese and Indonesian. Despite this interesting blend of flavours, it has never been popularly recognised - I can't see Alan Yau opening a Malay version of Busaba Eathai any time soon.

Things started wel at Sedap, the Archard was delicious -  a thick peanut and sesame paste on crispy pickled veg.  So too was the roti prata - rich chicken curry with flaky pastry-like bread.  I would have preferred it if they had served roti canai - my favourite of all Malaysian dishes - but you can't have it all.

On to the char kway teao (thick rice noodles fried with egg, prawns and a chili paste) - this transported me straight to the markets and restaurants of Ipoh (the supposed home of kway teao - although the people of Penang may have something to say about that).  Absolutely fantastic - spicy, rich, five stars.

Less impressive was the laksa - insipid sauce with vastly overcooked noodles.  A real disappointment.

A little better was the sambal okra.  The okra was well cooked but the sambal was a little sweet, lacked the hit you should get from shrimp paste and could have done with a great deal more chili.

All in all it was a mixed bag.  What was good, was very good.  The laksa, third rate. That said, I have no doubt I will be back, even if its just for a portion of kway teow at lunchtime.

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