In recent years, London has seen an increase in Malaysian restaurants and in particular halal Malay restaurants. Quite a few of are around the Paddington area to cater to the increasing number of Mara and other Malaysian student hostels in the area and their visiting parents. When Malaysians travel, they like to find Malaysian restaurants as they can’t go for too long without a taste of home. Quite a few of them have been known to bring their sambal belacan or chilli sauce with them to spice up foreign cuisine.
When I am in need of a taste of home, I veer towards Paddington where quite a few Malaysian restaurants have sprung up in recent years. Pak Awie is one of these newer Malay restaurants in Paddington. It serves Halal Malay food. On the evening we were there, the customers seem to range from some Malaysian students, a group from nearby St Marys Hospital to some Middle Eastern couples.
The smell of belacan (fermented prawn paste) hits you as you walk through the door. The dining room decor is modern unlike some of the other more drab Malay restaurants in the area catering to students. The walls of the brightly lit dining room are decorated with some Malaysiana and a couple of portraits of the current King and Queen. A few tables were occupied by On the night groups of Malaysian students, staff from the nearby St Marys Hospital and a few Middle Eastern couples.
On the menu you will recognise some of the more well known dishes like Laksa, Nasi Lemak and the ubiquitous Beef Rendang. As I was there with an English friend with an adventurous palate so we ordered Asian style, lots of dishes to share. We started with an Indian Muslim Murtabak and Mixed Satay. The Satay was well marinated but dry and was served with a decent spicy satay sauce. Unfortunately someone must have ignored the murtabak as it was a burnt, under seasoned and should not have been served.
For mains, our cheerful server suggested the house special grilled lamb chops. The tender lamb chops coated with a sticky glaze and the umami rich Kangkong belacan provided a good taste and texture contrast to the meal. The lightly spiced beef rendang triggered memories of happy meals at home. Thankfully, after the blip with the starters, the mains were much better executed.
The sweet options at Malaysian restaurants are not usually very enticing to a Western palate. The Pak Awie menu had a couple of choices of sweet soups and we picked the Bubur Pulut Hitam, a black glutinous rice pudding with coconut milk. The rice was tender but was rather bland and needed a lot more sugar syrup to taste right. The texture was too much like school food for my friend but I guess this sweet soups as a concept is a step too far for some.
The authentic flavours at Pak Awie was a taste of home although they need to pay a bit more attention to detail and not serve anything overly burnt. Expect to spend about £30 per person but order well and be prepared for the languid service.
EatCookExplore was a guest of Malaysia Kitchen at Pak Awie