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Thursday 17 June 2010

London Restaurant Reviews – Awana, Satay House and Tukdin Flavours of Malaysia

I am enjoying the 2010 Malaysian Kitchen Campaign a great deal. The opportunity to find out more about one of the most fascinating but relatively undiscovered Asian cuisines (and eat a lot of it in the process), right here in London, is an opportunity not to be missed.

I was lucky enough to have been involved in this campaign for the launch of the Malaysian Dining Card at Kiasu (reviewed here), and more recently as part of a “Malaysian restaurant tour” which included Awana, Satay House and Tukdin.

The event was organised to showcase what these restaurants will be offering at the Malaysian Section of this year’s Taste of London Festival.


Our first stop was at the fine-dining restaurant “Awana” on well-heeled Sloane Avenue in Chelsea where we were warmly welcomed by Hailong Wang, the restaurant manager. The restaurant is very elegant - furnished with teak wood and batik silks, it feels chic and rather reminiscent of those large colonial homes still found in parts of Malaysia.

Having read some mixed reviews by fellow food bloggers, I had a few reservations about Awana and was half-expecting the food to be a let-down. We started with a demonstration of “roti canai” preparation at the restaurant’s Satay Bar, before sampling a selection of starters.

(Picture courtesy of Tehbus)

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the food was pretty much in keeping with the restaurant’s fine surroundings. The “Beef Curry Murtabak” was excellent as was the “Kueh pai tee” (top hats), and the “Sajian Laut Salad” (tiger prawn and crab meat with pomelo and sour mango salad). The satay skewers were also very flavoursome and the meat had been cooked perfectly.

These dishes tasted fresh and sophisticated and highlighted the chef’s culinary finesse. This was a very positive (and promising) introduction to Awana and what it has to offer. I look forward to returning there one day soon for a full dinner and a more detailed review.

Awana on Urbanspoon

Satay House

We were then whisked away to our next stop, “Satay House” in Paddington. The restaurant is small and casual with a modern feel about it.

(Picture courtesy of Tehbus)

Our first round of main courses was served at this delightful restaurant, and in my opinion, one of the most successful dishes was the “Udang Galah Goreng” (king prawns fried in turmeric, chillies, lime leaves and coconut milk). The prawns were meaty but still soft and their richness was offset by the lime’s citric flavours and the delicate coconut milk.

The “Rendang Daging” (slow cooked beef in spices, herbs and coconut milk) was also noteworthy. I enjoyed the rich flavours of cinnamon, cloves and star anise infused in the very tender meat.

I love aubergines and so quite enjoyed “Terong Goreng Berlada” (aubergines stir-fried with ground chillies and shrimps) despite feeling that it was a little overspiced.

Less successful dishes were the “Satay” (chicken and lamb skewers served with a peanut sauce) and the “Kway Teow Goreng” (stir-fried flat rice noodles with seafood, egg and vegetables).

The former was slightly on the tough side whereas the noodles lacked the delicious combination of flavours that I have experienced from this dish elsewhere.

Satay House on Urbanspoon

Tukdin Flavours of Malaysia

Our final destination was at “Tukdin”, a charming little restaurant on Craven Road, Bayswater. The restaurant felt very Malay (as opposed to Hokkien-Chinese or Indian); the clientele appeared to be native, and wonderful smells of spices, coconut milk and grilled fish were wafting through the air as I came in.

It was nice to see entire Malay families eating together, and I could sense a delightful camaraderie among most customers who were probably regulars and clearly knew each other. Malaysia has three main ethnic groups – the Malays, Chinese and Indians. Since the Malays are predominantly Muslim, there was no alcohol or pork on the menu, and all the meat served was halal.

(Picture courtesy of Tehbus)

To kick off proceedings we had “Satay Goreng” (chicken served with peanut sauce) served off the skewer. The meat was sweet and had a delicious char-grilled flavour, and in my opinion, was the best “Satay” of the evening.

“Mee Goreng Mamak” (vegetarian fried noodles) was served next. The soft yellow noodles had a lovely richness, and a slight sweetness from the “kicap manis” (Malaysian sweet soy sauce). The noodles were stir-fried with chunky pieces of firm tofu and rice cakes and topped with ground peanuts and spring onions.

One of the best dishes was the “Ikan Rasa Khas” (sweet and sour sea bass). The fish had been cut up in chunky fillets, deep fried and topped with a delicious sweet and sour sauce made from tamarind and chillies.

I also enjoyed the “Daging Salai Masak Lemak Cili Api” (grilled beef in coconut sauce with lemongrass, turmeric and chilli). The combination of the creamy, sweet coconut milk with the tart lemongrass went particularly well with the grilled beef.

To accompany these main dishes, we had coconut and corn rice and Tukdin’s special mixed vegetables pickle called “Acar rampai”.

The “Kupang Berlada” (mussels in chilli sauce with lime leaves) was also excellent. I could taste a rich mix of flavours including pineapple, coconut milk and lime and with a touch of heat from the chillies. This was again a very good dish.

I enjoyed all three restaurants but felt that Tukdin was particularly special - the food was fantastic and great value, and I cannot wait to return. I would also like to revisit Awana for a more considered opinion. I strongly recommend trying some of these restaurants’ dishes available at Taste of Malaysia if you are planning a visit to Taste of London Festival this year (17 -20 June) in Regent’s Park.

tukdin flavours of Malaysia on Urbanspoon


  1. I'm really fascinated by Malaysian food - it really demonstrates the strong influence of both Chinese and (predominantly) South Indian food on the local cuisine. What is really interesting is to see how strong those influences are - clearly demonstrated in your pics and descriptions above, and yet, they seemingly meld so well.

    I really like the sound of Tukdin (and think the name is wonderfully puntastic), it looks like the pick of the bunch. How does it compare to Kiasu?

  2. Why wasn't I, your best Malaysian friend, invited to any of these restaurants? It's ok, you can still come over for sambal asparagus and ayam masak merah, when you want.

  3. Nice write up Luiz, just done similar myself - Thanks again for the Photos!

  4. @ Grubworm - love your "puntastic" comment Aaron, so witty! I so definitely want to return there after my diet, it will be my first restaurant in July! It is quite different from Kiasu, difficult to explain but despite having quite a few Nyonya dishes (fusion of Chinese and Malay cooking) on its menu, Kiasu feels predominantly Hokkien Chinese Malaysian whereas Tukdin is very Malay (more spices, coconut and fruits).

    @ Charmaine - at last a comment from you! Thanks! Can't wait to try your sambal asparagus and ayam masak merah. You were one of the first people to cook Malaysian for me and introduce me to this wonderful cuisine, you must come to Tukdin with me in July.

  5. @ Marshy1903 - no worries mate, just let me know if you ever need any more pics. Thanks for the comment!

  6. Looks delicious! Glad you reviewed Tukdin... I hope they have the grilled beef in coconut sauce at Taste of London.

    When I went to Awana a few months ago, I really enjoyed the chargrilled butterfish and chicken wings fried in cornflour.

  7. @ thewanderingfoody - I so definitely want to go back to Tukdin and Awana for a proper lengthy meal. I was very impressed with both restaurants.

    You have a great blog, loved your sushi/sashimi pictures of that Vancouver restaurant.

  8. Wow what a whirlwind restaurant tour - lucky you Luiz it sounds great

  9. Your comments certainly managed to stir up some opinions by us Malaysians! Awana intrigues me, really divides opinion. I look forward to your full visit.

    P.S. Vai Brasil!

  10. Tukdin's is the new exciting development in Malaysian restaurants, cooking mostly Malay, which is the core of Malaysian cuisine. The triumph of this is the so-called 'Nyonya' cuisine, which is the localisation of Chinese elements with Malay cooking style and ingredients.

    I have been to Tukdin's a few times, where I find the food generally good, though the kitchen does have its off moments. I have confidence in them though as I notice that this is where Malaysians both old and young come to eat, and that is always a good sign. I once even saw a famous British actress drop in for her takeaway lunch.

    For newcomers I recommend items from the 'hawkers' list. Mee Goreng and Kwayteow and the souped noodles like Mee Bandung and Mee Kari, and the delicious nasi lemak. And then from there graduate to Malay style meals which you share with friends. This is basically rice (plain or pilau style greasy rice) with a variety of dishes such as you have shown above. If you have the time, try also the ikan bakar (baked fish) with some of the Malaysian condiments of belacan and air asam (chilli, onions, tamarind sauce with a dash of lime) and ask Tukdin if he has anything special for the day that is not on the menu. Rendang is recommended, though I am not a keen eater of beef.

    You are right about the satay. Theirs was easily the best at the Tastes of London fair.

    - Santana

  11. @ Gourmet Chick - I was surprised you were not there Cara, it was a lovely introductions to three very promising restaurants.

    @ Hungry Female - thanks, love your blog and your traffic signalling for your posts! Great idea. I can't wait to go back to Tukdin and Awana too, I will post full reviews shortly.

    @ Santana - thank you very much for taking your time to give us all these recommendations, I will make sure to read this again before visiting Tukdin!


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