Malaysian food is without a doubt one of my favourite cuisines. Satay, chicken curry, beef rendang, nasi goreng, nasi lemak, beef kway teow…wonderful aromatic flavours of coconut, chilli, garlic, shrimp paste…I love it and am lucky enough to have quite a few Malaysian restaurants to choose from in London.
But, Malaysian roti – one of our favourite Malaysian dishes – is also one of the hardest to find. Roti is a layered, flaky, thin flatbread. It has an almost pastry like texture; slightly crispy on the outside with a soft, stretchy middle. Most Malaysian restaurants will have roti on the menu, but very few make it fresh. The frozen version that you can buy in Asian supermarkets is fine, but you can’t beat a freshly made Malaysian roti dipped in curry sauce.
Even harder to find is Murtabak. Murtabak is a roti filled with vegetables or meat (usually minced lamb or chicken), served with a curry sauce. We have only found two places in London that serve Murtabak. The first, Awana, has closed, and the other is the Satay House in Paddington.
So that was a very long, roundabout way of introducing the Satay House. The restaurant itself has two levels, a darker, intimate lower floor and a more open upstairs area that feels a bit more spacious. We were sitting upstairs and weren’t crammed in next to the other tables like a lot of other London restaurants, which was a nice change.
It took a while to be served drinks but once they took our order for two Tigers (of course) the service was fine. We ordered our starters of mixed satay (lamb and chicken) with peanut sauce, cucumber and onion and a lamb murtabak with ‘dalca’ (a curry sauce) and pickled carrots.
The satay consisted of beautifully cooked skewers of lamb (our favourite) and chicken, with a huge pot of thick peanut sauce. There was far too much sauce for the satay, but I finished it off with a spoon because it was so delicious.
The murtabak was not how we remembered it from Singapore andMalaysia and had a faint Middle Eastern flavour. Although it was not quite what we were expecting the roti was exactly as it should be and the filling was meaty and spicy and I would absolutely go back for it again. The curry sauce it was served with was nice but again not quite what we remembered from having murtabak when we were younger.
The main courses were incredibly authentic and full of the flavours we remember from growing up in Asia. We had a rendang daging; slow cooked chunks of succulent beef in a spiced coconut sauce and kari ayam (chicken curry). They were both perfect, but dipping our side of plain roti into the chicken curry was the highlight of the whole meal. It tasted exactly how we wanted it to and reminded us again why we are always on a mission to find roti.
We also ordered a Nasi Goreng ‘kampung’; fried rice with crispy anchovies, vegetables, prawn and fresh chilli. Nasi goreng is always different at every Malaysian restaurant we go to, but this one was the most authentic I have had in the UK, possibly due to the anchovies. Even though we were both uncomfortably full towards the end of the meal, I couldn’t bear to leave any and we ate every grain of rice on the plate.
We didn’t have dessert but were sorely tempted by the banana fritters with maple syrup and vanilla ice cream. We saw a neighbouring table have one and if we hadn’t been full to the brim we would have ordered it immediately. They also have classic Malaysian desserts like Ais Kacang, made from shaved ice with sweet syrup, a vivid memory of my childhood.
Satay House was definitely worth trekking to Paddington for, and although the Murtabak was not what we were expecting, it was something new and interesting to try. We had a fantastic meal and it spurred us into talking about all the food we wanted to eat when we go to Singapore in a few weeks, which is always an exciting thing to think about.
If you love Malaysian restaurants, I definitely recommend trying this one. wwww.satay-house.co.uk