Despite our varied and eclectic food scene it was, until now, a push to find excellent Malaysian food in London. There were attempts at it in China Town but in my opinion, no one has quite nailed the Laksa here in the UK like the Laksa Kitchen has.
Popping up at a café in Kentish Town The Laksa kitchen is serving Malaysian dishes to a stream of diners on Friday and Saturday evenings throughout the winter. This is their second residency there but they’ve added new dishes to the menu after founder David Tjong completed another Malaysian odyssey, seeking out the best local delicacies to bring back to the big smoke. Londoners, always keen to discover new cuisines, have been flocking there since the doors opened at the beginning of November and it was no exception on the Friday night we visited.
Everything on the menu looked extremely tempting but we eventually settled on three starters between 4 of us. The first was Chee Cheong Fun; flat noodles ravelled up and served in a thick dark nutty sauce with sesame seeds, crispy shallots and chilli paste. We also enjoyed the curry puffs; a trio of delicious little pasties filled with curried potatoes and onions, wrapped in flaky pastry and served with a yoghurt dip. The last was the Cucur Udang which was a highlight for me; they were prawn fritters with a Tumeric spiced batter coating prawns and Chinese chives, served with a sweet chilli dipping sauce. They were crisp on the outside but warm and doughy inside with a subtle spicing.
A new addition to their mains menu was one of my favourite dishes of all time which brings back fond memories of dinners spent eating on plastic communal tables in Singaporean hawker houses. The Char Kway Teow was made with duck egg here and was absolutely delicious. For any fans of Malay food – this one is extremely authentic, if not an improved version of what is served over there and if you’re new to this cuisine you’re bound to be a convert. Flat rice noodles are cooked with prawns, Chinese sausage, kow choi, duck eggs, beansprouts, dark soy sauce and chilli. The prawns were plump and juicy and the soft noodles were coated in the rich, dark sauce. I would return just for this dish.
Now on to the laksa, this may be more familiar to diners as it is a dish that is enjoyed more commonly in the UK, but they wouldn’t have had it like this before. They got the spicing of the curry-coconut sauce just right and again it was filled with a generous serving of plump prawns, along with squid, muscles, classic thin rice-noodles, beansprouts and a boiled egg. It is a bowl of such comfort and the perfect winter food for the chilly nights that have quickly arrived in the city.
Desserts were two pandan-based treats. Pandan leaves are grown in South-East Asia and commonly used in desserts there. They are favoured for their subtle sweet flavour which is perfect for cakes, biscuits and pancakes. The Kuih Seri Muka was a two layered dessert with sticky sweet rice on the bottom and pandan flavoured custard on top, cut into neat squares and served with pistachios, pomegranate kernels and cane-syrup sauce. It was so heavenly, I could have eaten it twice.
The food overall was outstanding. They have mastered the Malay cuisine and managed to deliver authentic dishes that still have the wow factor. If you visit, go with an empty stomach and prepare to indulge. Opt for a 3-courser as you wouldn’t want to miss any of the amazing dishes on offer and don’t be tempted to skip dessert for fear of the unknown, the pandan options will definitely hit the spot.
David has created an offering out of a passion for the cuisine and that is reflected in all of the dishes served. By the size of the walk-in queue there, London is clearly ready for a new type of Asian cuisine and the Malay dishes he’s chosen to serve are among the best out there. The Laksa kitchen will be running in Kentish Town until 18th December so get your reservations in quick but let’s all keep our fingers crossed that David will eventually open a permanent home where we can enjoy his delicious plates of noodles throughout the year.
Main dishes start from £9.50 and reservations can be made online here.
327 Kentish Town Road