Rasa Sayang (London)

I have already posted a write-up of the number of meals we ate at C&R, a Malaysian restaurant in London’s Chinatown. Because we came to C&R so early during our stay, and liked it so much, we sort of got stuck into it for our Malaysian cravings. As a result we didn’t make it to Rasa Sayang—the other Malaysian place likely to be recommended to you by Londoners if you ask—until much later. This was a shame as we really liked our meal there; in fact, we preferred their versions of a number of things that we ate at both places.

Here now is an account of a meal we ate there in mid-May with old friends who live in the Los Angeles area but who we hadn’t seen in more than a decade. I stopped in separately on another occasion with a group but did not have my camera with me and my phone’s battery was dead. Alas, when we tried to go back in early June, right before we left for Scotland, we found that they were closed till the middle of  the month for renovations. 

London’s Chinatown isn’t very big and it’s not very far from C&R to Rasa Sayang. Where C&R are located in the narrow alley of Rupert Court, Rasa Sayang are on Macclesfield St. right where it meets Shaftesbury Ave. It is probably easier to find. It is also apparently Chinatown’s only halal restaurant—which may or may not mean that the restaurant’s owners are Malaysian Muslims. Anyway, it’s a smaller space than C&R and even more utilitarian in aesthetic—or at least it was before their recent renovations (if you’ve been since please let me know what the place looks like now). We got there at about 12.20 on a Sunday and they weren’t full; by the time we left at about 1.45, however, they were slammed.

The menu is very similar to that at C&R, though it adds fairly representative pictures of every dish. On this occasion we ate the following:

  • Sotong Kangkong, cuttlefish, water morning glory, peanut, sesame, shrimp paste (£6.90): A simple dish of morning glory/water spinach topped with cuttlefish doused with a funky dressing of shrimp paste and crushed peanuts. Very nice.
  • Chicken Satay, spicy peanut sauce, cucumber, onion, rice cake (£6.90): The inevitable chicken satay for the boys; they scarfed them down.
  • Hainanese Chicken Rice, rice cooked in chicken stock, slow-cooked chicken, bean sprout, coriander, chicken soup, ginger and garlic chilli sauce (£7.90): On par with C&R’s, which is to say enjoyable enough but quite a distance from the ones we had in Singapore years ago.
  • Beef Rendang, slow-cooked spiced beef, steamed rice (£8.50): Now this was much better than C&R’s version, rich without being cloying, the flavours perfectly balanced, and the meat wonderfully tender.
  • Nasi Goreng Istimewa, shrimp fried rice, sunny-side up, grilled chicken satay, anchovy, cucumber, keropok, peanut sauce (£7.90): I don’t know that I’d want to eat all of one of these by myself but it was quite tasty split among four people.
  • Curry Assam Fish, fish fillet, okra, aubergine, tomato, assam (tamarind), kaffir lime leaf, onion (£12.90): This sour and spicy fish curry may be the best dish we ate at either C&R or Rasa Sayang. (Assam here refers not to the north-eastern Indian state but to the use of tamarind for sourness.) Quite funky, even without the okra and eggplant being factored in but very good.

Launch the slideshow for a closer look at the restaurant and the dishes; scroll down to the bottom for brief notes on service and value.

This was a very enjoyable meal—though it’s possible it may have been coloured by the pleasure of seeing old friends again after so long. That said, I really liked the laksa I ate on my undocumented visit as well. And it’s very good value too: all of the above food, some beers and soft drinks came to less than £80 all-in with tip. That’s for four adults and two kids, all of whom ate well—and we took some food home. I’d call that excellent value in London. Service was a bit chaotic but very friendly. All in all, I’d recommend Rasa Sayang highly; if we had stopped in here first it’s not unlikely that we’d have eaten here more often than at C&R. But you can’t go wrong at either place. Now, if we can only get more Malaysians to move to Minnesota…

2 thoughts on “Rasa Sayang (London)

  1. I’ve just been. The decor is fresh but not tacky. The menu has been updated, and seemed more streamlined. I had the Singapore Hokkien Mee, and was disappointed at the smaller than expected size, though the taste was good enough. The teh tarik was lukewarm. The staff were very bright and attentive. Aesthetically nicer, with a slimmer menu.


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