Tag Archives: malay

Singapore, how I love thee

Lovely enjoying himself

I’m finally back from a wonderful holiday in my homeland… well been back a couple of weeks now. I always feel downhearted whenever I arrive back in the UK – not that I don’t like it, and thank God I’ve arrived safely – but the airports aren’t as visitor friendly. In Singapore it all makes sense – the taxi rank is just there, and there’ll be taxis waiting for your custom, with sufficiently polite drivers. Or, my relatives will be there to pick me up. Upon arriving at Gatwick I had to hunt around for a taxi, no, I had to ring for one, then walk through some other hotel’s carpark to get to some random pick up spot. We waited where we were told. But no, there were 3 different spots, on the same width of road which has been inconveniently split into 3 sections of roads, and the taxi was waiting on the other side of the road, which we then had to cross. There weren’t any signs specifying where to wait for a cab. The driver was grumpy cos he had been hanging around for like, what 5 mins? Tsk I have no time for this – I’ve been waiting longer myself! Why didn’t he ring? How come there are no signs?!

The following day, another rude taxi driver. Macam bagus aje. And not only that, taxi drivers in Singapore give you exact change, and even round it down. Over here, no chance. If it’s £12.40 and you paid £13, you’ll be waiting around for him to fumble around for change, and he takes a little bit longer to do that so that you eventually give up and let them keep the change – OR, they just go ‘Thank you’ –  and that’s it, no change. They think they have a god-given right to the change. I really hate that. I suppose I grew up in a no tipping culture. Hey, what you see is what you pay what! And not only that, it ain’t cheap!

I have moved out to the provinces now, so no more daily tube rides for me, and the irony is that although the journey is much further, it doesn’t feel further. Esp on a direct train. I can just about play two rounds of Hell’s Kitchen on my iPod.

All this week I had been on a TV presenting course, which was a lot of fun. It was quite an eye-opener, how enjoyable it was. It ain’t that easy – I mean on a course, we’re all molly coddled – but in real life TV presenting I’m sure will be quite challenging. I do want to go into it. Maybe children’s presenting! Haha. I want to internationally acclaimed at something, but I’m not quite clear what yet. I’ve tried music and now I haven’t really got much faith in it. I enjoy listening and dancing to it but making it just seems like a lot of effort. And it makes a noise. At one point I enjoyed making clothes and bedclothes because I can be creative in silence. TV presenting is slightly different as well as you are essentially speaking – nothing weird there. With singing I just get self-conscious at home. Until I start singing.

Anyhoo, I want to start a Kelab Cakap Melayu in London – to improve my karat Malay. And also would be interesting to see who comes. Anybody who wants to speak Malay and practise would be welcome. Anyone who speaks in English in a whole sentence will kena fine. There will be dictionaries on the ready!

Singaporeans in London… where are you?

I’ve been away from SG for almost 9 years now, and I’ve met so few fellow Singaporeans!

Well I’m lying a little bit. At the National Day gathering last year at the Singapore High Commission, we were  in a sea of sombrely well-dressed, suited and booted  Singaporean professionals armed with business cards. We looked quite too bright and cheerful for the room…

He is going to be a PR at some point

Where are all the fun mavericks*? Give me a shout!

* i.e true born and bred heartlander S’pore citizens who have been thriving overseas for 5+ years without mummy and daddy’s help… possibly in some kind of creative or non-profit industry

Delima Restaurant at Paddington

Had an early dinner at Delima Restaurant today, to take advantage of the London Evening Standard offer. It was a big place, in fact almost too big, as they could have cordoned areas off better to make it more cosy. It looks very new and the decor, modern and clean. Service was very friendly, despite the few occasions where it was very hard to attract their attention because of where we were sitting, which was a lovely spot by the window. Initially, the lack of music and noisy chatter contributed to zero ambience, but they started playing music by the time our meal was served.

We had beef satay and prawn fritters (?) for starters – the prawns were big and succulent, served with sweet chilli sauce. Definitely worth a try. The beef satay looked like the real deal but a bit on the small side individually, although collectively it is enough for one person. Taste wise, it’s OK, could be better – my brother used to own a satay stall in Singapore, and his satay was absolutely delicious, so I have very high standards for satay lah.

The main meal comprised ikan asam pedas and beef rendang. My partner had been desiring beef rendang for ages. The beef rendang was tasty – it’s the dry type, hence more authentic. Unfortunately I did not get a chance to taste much of it as my partner promptly ate the lot, his eyes smarting from the spices. The ikan asam pedas was pretty good too; we even had enough to take home. Quite bony, so do take care – eating with your hand helps…

To round it off, we had sago gula melaka and goreng pisang topped with ice cream, which were both lovely and enough to keep us full for the evening.

A clear, beautifully handwritten bill (what a rarity at Asian joints!)  was handed to us at the end. They had the misfortune of having all satellite /telephone signals cut off, which meant they could only accept cash, which came as a surprise. Even all the cash machines in the area were not working. We ended up paying £4 less than stated on the bill as that was all the cash we had on us.

So, all in all, Delima is a pleasant, clean, modern-looking restaurant with decent meals, and very friendly, flexible and accommodating staff.

However I’m not quite clear what kind of market they are targeting; there’s something amiss, nothing that really stood out, other than the staff, and possibly the karaoke (information on which was not readily available unless you asked, which we didn’t). Maybe they could pay more attention to how they can marry the music with the surroundings. Since they’ve got the space, maybe they could cordon off some areas to make it more cosy and aim towards a more romantic ambience. For instance, Bonda Cafe is cheap and good, with a great logo; Satay House, which is very close by, has that primo feel; Tuk Din has superb knock-out food (both times), soft, muted decor and a kind of ‘kampung’ name; Tuk Tuk is all out canteen with super quick service; not to mention Georgetown restaurant in all it’s colonial splendour… I really can babble on!  Would be interesting to see if Delima are indeed getting it right – watch this space.

Puji Puji restaurant in Islington

The first in my Metro Malaysian restaurant 2 for 1 offer adventures!

The Puji Puji website looks great. Could do with a more extensive menu online, but apparently it’s seasonal so it would be a pain to keep updating a Flash site.

The restaurant had a cosy, warm decor with some nice touches like an original ice kacang grater I’ve never seen before – even the loo was given a spa look with the pebbles on the floor… don’t see that that often in London. The very friendly lady proprietor, with the help of a waiter, ran the whole show – it was a weekday night but it was very busy. But because it was busy, the cosiness turned into being cramped on occasion as people rushed and brushed past us to and fro.

Anyway, onto the food! The stuffed sea-bass (Ikan Sumbat with something) was inspired – it smelled of Otak Otak, and it was two pieces of beautifully grilled, juicy fillet held together with two pandan leaf ribbons. It was interestingly presented, unlike the usual slap-on style of nasi campur or just a fish on a dish. Each ‘element’ of the meal had it’s own place on the squared dish – fish parcel in one corner, rice in the other, with the sambal and veggie accompaniment in two matching square saucers. Judging from how orderly it looked, I tentatively picked at it with a knife and fork, but upon discovering many little bones I attacked it with my bare hands instead.

We also had the Ayam Percik – it looked scrumptious and tasted nice and juicy. Now THIS is ayam percik, not the sorry excuse for one at Jom Makan Trafalgar Square many moons ago! Behind the bar, our dynamic proprietor continuously fans the grill, serving up varieties of satay, and am pretty sure this chicken was on there for a bit too. Yummy. Would love to try out the venison satay one day.

The portions could be bigger, for a someone who loves big portions like me (Tuk Tuk, anyone?), but sufficient enough not to need dessert. I still think Tuk Din was better value for money though, for the space and the food – just hope they haven’t increased the price since I was last there!

View map

Tuk Din at Paddington

Tuk Din on Craven Road near Paddington Station is a pretty good joint for Malay food. Finally a decent Malay food joint in London to write about. It’s in a just nice space between the upmarket (Awana) and downbeat canteen (M’sia Hall). Bonda Cafe, which is nearer to the station, is alright – but Tuk Din has nicer atmosphere, food and professional friendly service for just a touch more money. It could have been a tad dimmer though; the lighting was a bit bright. We had fish curry (very nice, and boneless), beef curry and chicken cooked with garlic which to our surprise was a dry fried dish – but it was nice, crispy and tender anyway. We would definitely eat there again.

No they haven’t paid me in case you’re wondering – I paid them!

View map (this is approximate)

There seems to be an incredible looking Persian restaurant being built a few shops down – would love to check it out when it’s ready!