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Thursday 18 February 2010

London Restaurant Reviews - Sedap


Since I first encountered Nyonya Cuisine in Malacca a few years ago, I have fallen in love with the heady and delicious aromas of this style of cooking arising from the inter-racial marriages of Malay women (Nyonya) and Chinese men (Baba). Think aromatic curries (rempah), fermented shrimp paste (belacan), abundant use of spices and herbs, candlenut, fruits like pineapple, and coconut milk.

Sedap is not entirely Nyonya but is, I think, as close as you will get in London to the real thing found in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

The restaurant feels rather like a café with a small number of well spaced tables. It is simply but tastefully decorated, a haven from the noisy Old Street outside. Julie, our waiter, was friendly and service was overall smooth and sweet.

Apart from a few “Roti Prata” (flat Indian bread) @ £1.80, we skipped the starters and ordered a few main dishes to share which included:

“Beef Rendang” (authentic almost dry curry beef) @ £6.90 – the curry was well balanced and deliciously rich, accompanying very tender pieces of beef. My only criticism was the size of the portion - it was shockingly small with only 3 or 4 small pieces of meat on the plate.

“Malaysian Belacan Chicken” (tender, crispy fried chicken marinated with homemade prawn paste and served with sweet chilli sauce) @ £5.70 – another tiny but delectable portion of crispy pieces of chicken. These were deep-fried and as a result the belacan (shrimp paste) flavour was almost completely lost.

“Sambal Brinjal” (pan friend aubergines, spread with homemade chilli shrimp paste and prawn) @ £4.80 – this was a superb dish, having some of my favourite ingredients. The aubergines were deep fried, and had a soft and buttery texture that combined very nicely with the savoury belacan and shrimp combination.

"Sambal Okra" (stir fried okra and prawn in homemade chilli shrimp paste) @ £4.95 – many people dislike okra because of the slime it exudes if not properly prepared. However, I have always loved it, and in this case the lady’s fingers were nicely cooked, still pleasantly firm and not viscous.

"Malaysian Tofu" (deep fried tofu in peanut sauce) @ £3.90 – this was an excellent recommendation by CK of London Chow, and was indeed one of the highlights of the evening. The tofu had been deep fried until it was crispy, and had a topping of beansprouts, cucumber and mint, with a delicious peanut sauce to finish it off.

"Penang Char Kway Teow" (famous stir fried flat rice noodles with prawn, bean sprouts, Chinese sausages, egg, fishcake, soy sauce, seafood stick and vegetables) @ £6.80 - this was as good as versions I have eaten in Singapore, but again the portion was minute.

"Tow Yu Bak" (slow cooked pork with thick & sweet soy sauce) @ £6.50 – this was excellent. The meet was succulent and tender, and the combination of sweet soy sauce and caramelised pork fat was heavenly.

To finish the meal, we had "Coconut ice cream" @ £3.95, and a selection of "Nyonya Kuih" (traditional freshly made Malaysian desserts) @ £2. These were not too sweet, and ended the meal appropriately.

The wine list was reasonable – we had a couple of bottles of the Mondarra Chardonnay @ £13.90. This wine had sufficient robustness to stand up to the complex flavours of the food, and it is good to see restaurants having reasonable quality wines at this price range.

The total bill came to £97 or £18 per person including drinks and service. At first glance this may look like outstanding value however in retrospect we did not order enough food. Had we ordered two portions of each dish I estimate that this very good meal would have cost us between £25 and £30 per person. I think this would still have been a resonable price for the quality of cooking at Sedap.

If you would like to learn more about Nyonya cuisine, take a look at the great site by Petit Nyonya called A Nyonya Kitchen in my Blog List.

Verdict – despite the tiny portions, I felt that the food was overall well prepared and authentic. Outstanding were the slow cooked pork, Malaysian tofu and the Sambal vegetables. Charming, friendly service. Recommended (but I suggest you order more rather than less).

Sedap on Urbanspoon


  1. Hi Luiz! What a pleasant surprise with this post of yours on Malaysian food and Nyonya cuisine. Thank you very much for mentioning my blog. How are you celebrating Tet in Vietnam? Hope you're enjoying yourself. I've only been to Hanoi once and I like it too, although the roads are really chaotic. Well, if you do stop by in Malaysia again, don't hesitate to let me know ;).

    The 'sambal brinjal' is one of my favorite dishes too. Maybe I'll post my family's recipe for this soon. Will let you know :).

    Enjoy yourself in Vietnam & take care! Cheers!

  2. I can't believe how tiny a portion of beef rendang at Sedap is. Just compared it to a photo of the same dish at Rasa Sayang which is twice as large for a similar price. The desserts look different class here which is what everybody says about this place.

  3. @ Petit Nyonya - we were in Hanoi for Tet, loved the vibe, it was great to be there although my friend's wallet got pickpocketed 3 mins before midnight so we spent the following 2 hours sorting that out. We are now leaving Hoi An, heading back to Hanoi to go to Halong Bay and Sapa. I will let you know next time I go to Malaysia as I have not yet been to Penang, and I am dying to try the Nyonya cuisine there. Hope all is well with you! Luiz x

    @ Mr Noodles - the portions were ridiculously tiny, I took some pretty close shots to try and make the dishes look a little more presentable. I would like to go back again with fewer people and order a few more dishes although I think Rasa Sayang is slightly better and cheaper. Sedap is about 10 mins walk from my house though which is very convenient as I find myself going to the West End less frequently as time goes by.

  4. I used to walk past Sedap on my way home from and would drop by and get some kueh for takeaway. Wife and I simply loved it. Being heavily coconut based, I guessed it reminded us of home.

    I ordered Beef Rendang at Sedap once but it was really small - any rice is another two quid per portion, rendering it quite expensive for a main, not that it's big enough anyway.

    So I always ended up with either the Hainanese Chicken Rice or Char Kuey Teow.

    Oh, mighty thanks for the link, Luiz!

  5. Interesting because whenever I get the Char Kuey Teow for takeout, it seems huge! I love the food here.

  6. I can't wait to try to recreate the Malaysian tofu!

  7. @ London Chow - indeed their kueh was fantastic, they took me back to Singapore, well worth a visit to Sedap for the sake of trying them. The portions were tiny, but the restaurant is not expensive so I guess I will order a couple of extra dishes next time. Thanks for your recommendation.

    @ Krista - hi Krista, maybe the chef was feeling a little ungenerous on the evening I visited, as we all felt portions were on the small side. This is not so much a problem but I wish I had ordered two of every dish, they were so yummy!

    @ Lori - lovely to see you again, and love the new look of your revamped site! The tofu was one of the highlights of the evening, well worth a try.

  8. Hey there,

    If ever you are interested in an indian gourmet food experience that comprises of dishes from the 4 corners of India…cooked by an Indian, a new 'londoner'…come to Chowpatty Supperclub. Our upcoming event is on 27th feb and it includes a 5 course launch menu for £15.

    To book- http://www.wegottickets.com/event/72009

    On Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/pages/London-United-Kingdom/Chowpatty-SupperClub/302459100016?ref=ts

    on twitter- http://twitter.com/Chowpattylondon


  9. Hi Chowpatty Supperclub - I would have been delighted but I am away from the country until 1 March. I will take a look at your facebook page when I am back. Pls reminde me if i don't get in touch.

  10. i sooOOOoOoooooo need to go to sedap! I've heard such awesome things about it and that sambal okra looks divine. Must Go.

  11. I thoroughly recommend it Catty, but don't be shy when ordering otherwise you might go hungry! The okra was sensational as was the tofu too.

  12. Hey Luiz, next time I'm in London, I'll have to come hang out with you. You've got a great blog here. Cheers and it was great meeting you.


  13. Hi Dan, nice to see you here mate! Thank you again for looking after us in Seoul and a fantastic tasting of makgeolli, it made our stay in Seoul very special. I would be very happy to see you in London and return your great hospitality, in the meantime, I hope to keep in touch via our blogs.

  14. I can't sleep and was dreaming of beef rendang (strange I know) so found my way to your review of Sedap. Seems as though the place could be great ; especially if it slightly uped the portion size!

  15. OMG Tom, at 3.37am! Poor thing, I hope the day is not proving too long today. Good luck for tomorrow, can't wait to hear about it at The Platform thingy on Thurs.

    Sedap was fantastic, but don't be shy about over-ordering as the portions are tiny!


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