Saturday, July 12, 2008

Melati Restaurant review - a mix mesh of sorts

Melati lies along an inconspicuous street just off Piccadilly Circus. We would have never stumble upon it if not for Toptable. We were looking for an affordable restaurant that serves decent food (in other words, cheap and good) before we catch The 39 Steps.

Melati, which purported to serve "Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean" food sounded dubious to me initially. Back in Singapore, I would have given it a wide berth. For the uninitiated, there is a difference between food from these three places. It's liken to a restaurant that boasts about serving Mexican, Texan and Caribbean food.

The service staff, with their Singaporean/Malaysian accents, reminds me somewhat of the staff in Kiasu (along Queensway), is rather cold. It took quite a bit of effort to wrangle a smile from them.

The décor reminds me of a typical Indonesian restaurant with toned down lighting and wooden furniture packed a little too close together. Occupying three floors, it was almost packed when we arrived. If possible I would advice to stick to the ground floor as the second and third floors are almost devoid of ventilation.

The menu, I must say, looks rather authentic with dishes that very well represent the best that Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore have to offer. Hungry for some hometown food, we ordered nasi lemak (£11), Singapore laksa (£9) and char kuey teow (£9) with murtabuk (£6) as starters.

Let's put it this way. This restaurant wouldn't survive a month if it opens up in Indonesia, Malaysia or Singapore. The rice in nasi lemak is devoid of fragrance. In fact, the best part of the meal is the egg, which says much about the dish. Singapore laksa is served with vermicelli and tasted watered down. Char kuey teow is served with keropok and the kuey teow (still clumped together) have absolutely no taste whatsoever. The murtabuk is presented as popiah filled meat mesh.

Without a single iota of doubt, it was one of the worse meal we had. We left the restaurant with an empty stomach and our food barely eaten. That was how bad it was.

The verdict? Avoid Melati like plague if you're indeed looking for authentic Indonesian, Malaysian and Singapore food. The taste of the food has been very much watered down (and altered) to suit Londoners' taste. It reminds me of Giraffe's Malaysian laksa, which is served in green curry.

Oh, if you somewhat unfortunately landed in Melati, do check out its toilet. It is, perhaps, the only redeeming feature of the place.

Read also
JoM Makan - the true taste of Malaysia


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12 comments:

Fëanor said...

Hiya. Not surprised that you were short-changed by Melati. We as Indians find the general standard of supposedly Indian food quite abysmal in these parts. But have you been to Nyonya at Notting Hill Gate, which I mentioned here? I liked it very much, but would welcome your thoughts on it.

Eaststopper said...

I can never quite understand the pricing of south-east asian food in London. 8 pounds for 6 sticks of satay, 9 pounds for a plate of nasi lemak, 10 pounds for a bowl of lasak. Surely there must exist a huge arbitrage opportunity here.
Anyways, sorry to hear about your experience at Melati, you can bet that wife and I wouldnt be sticking our neck into the restuarant any time soon.

C K said...

@Fëanor,
We've went to Nonya once and loved it. The nasi lemak was really authentic, way better than Melati of course.

Thanks for stopping by and hope to hear from you again. Cheers!

C K said...

@eaststopper,
Hey, bro! Great to hear from you again!

I think the cost of doing business over here is much higher as compared to back home so am not sure about the margin despite the high prices.

Oh well, it's just our luck. But then again, if you're near Melati, you should try Korean Kitchen, which is directly opposite Melati, we felt that it's really good.

Dutchie said...

In our tiny neighbourhood, we hv chinese-indonesian restaurants, Egyptian Pizzeria (go figure !), 1 Indian eatery with an impressive menu but serves cheese sandwiches, turkish burgers/kebabs as well ... 4 dutch Inns serves better food with their meat n potato menu ! It is at least authentic.

ck, perhaps it's worth investing in a cookbook n make those dishes urself lah ! I hv been making my own Soto Ayam, Laksa, Mee Siam (just y'day !), chicken curry (with frozen prata, Sg import !), Beef Rendang - as u can see, my hubby is a fan of spicy food ! Of course it's much easier to make ur own chinese favourites bec it's 2nd nature (tho I learned from scratch) - char kway teow, woh tieh (just had that for sunday lunch !), stew chicken, kong po kai, etc, features regularly on our menu. I started making my own goreng pisang when the price is Sg became exorbitant lor (S$0,80 p/pc). It is a quick snack to satisfy our frequent cravings leh !

C K said...

@dutchie,
It looks as if eateries play a major role in your community. How 'small' is your neighbourhood anyway? There are some places where there are not many restaurants despite having large threshold population.... the inhabitants just tend to prepare their own meals.

My wife is rather adventurous when it comes to cooking. My repertoire includes fried noodles, fried rice and fried egg... realise the similarity? For her, she'll get cookbooks and try out every single dish with varying results. Well, there's always be to stomach the product!

Wow, you do goreng pisang as well? I can imagine it to be rather messy... I rather fork out $0.80... but I'm sure it's more expensive now, no?

Dutchie said...

ck, our town centre is 0,5km in radius - pretty tiny hor ? It caters mostly to out-of-townders.

Ur wife will be called a "keuken princes" - kitchen princess, here, with her zest for cooking !

Goreng Pisang only needs a batter made from (rice)flour, salt n water - very easy ma ! I wont be surprised very bite at the sarabat stall cost S$ 1,00 now !

Last nite on the spur of a moment, in between watching Robert de Niro in "Heat" , I managed to whip up a plate of kueh dadar for my hubby. I told him maybe I should apply for a job as a dessert chef in an Asian eatery, since I hv the knack of producing instant snacks - what do u think ;-> ?

Yang said...

Hiya,

My colleagues and I have been going to chinese town to get chinese food. One of our previous colleague actually introduced Four Seasons in Chinatown. They are quite well known for their Roast Duck. We went there twice and quite enjoy the food there.

C K said...

@Yang,
Oh yeah, we enjoyed Four Seasons as well. Somehow, ducks over here taste much better than back home. Don't know why... probably due to the food they feed their ducks?

C K said...

@dutchie,
Arrghh.... 'kueh dardar'!!!!

You should! Go be a dessert chef! If possible, send some of those kuehs to London!

Dutchie said...

ck, am beaming some over now .. hope u appreciate cyber food - haha !

C K said...

@dutchie,
No wonder I smelt something delicious during work just now... a pity that it's only the smell... maybe the food (minus its fragrance) got beamed somewhere else... lol