Since working for a pan-Asian restaurant in the past I’ve always been a fan of Malaysian cuisine – a reflection of the multi-ethnic population of the country but heavily influenced by Indian and Chinese. The restaurant I worked for was in Harrods, so the majority of my Malaysian eating experience has been pretty high quality with top notch ingredients and incredibly talented chefs. So I may have had fairly high expectations before visiting Wild Serai, and I’m pleased to say they were surpassed on pretty much every dish.
I was invited to join the lovely Jason and Chiara from Goan to London for lunch on Sunday to check out the new pop-up at the King & Co – I hadn’t seen them for months, hadn’t had Malaysian food for even longer and the pub is almost on my doorstep; winner!
Wild Serai have had great success in the last couple of years with various supperclubs in London, and are currently enjoying pop-up status in the newly refurbished King & Co – a stone’s throw from Clapham Common.
After much gossiping (probably to our lovely waiter Anthony’s frustration..) we finally ordered a selection of dishes to share. Mixed satay is standard Malaysian fare and this one was tender and perfectly chargrilled with just the right amount of spicy peanut sauce. Even the dribble of dressing on the cucumber garnish was lovely. We also had pork belly with little gem boats – you could just pick out the star anise in the soy dressing, it was delightful.
Nasi lemak is Malaysia’s national dish and Wild Serai’s is gorgeous – coconut rice garnished with spicy peanuts, cucumber and egg, with prawn sambal on the side and a crispy chicken wing (main pic). We also had oxtail stew – the meat wasn’t overly meaty (high bone to meat ratio), but it tasted slow-cooked and the flavours were delicious.
For me the highlight was the soft-shelled crab with mantou buns. I love seafood and will always choose it, and this was crispy from the fryer without being greasy and the meat was fresh and fishy, not bland and soggy like it sometimes gets. You can taste the lemongrass and chilli in the sauce, and the sweet, soft little bun is the ideal vessel to shovel more of it in. I also adore the banana leaf plates and want some for home.
To drink we went for the recommended Cote du Rhone which was smooth and mellow, and complimented everything perfectly.
I’m not a huge fan of Asian desserts and unfortunately these didn’t change my mind! We had both the desserts on the menu, bubur cha cha was like a coconut soup with sago balls, banana and sweet potato – a bit too sweet for me, and cengkodok was deep fried banana balls. The two dishes were nicer combined, but still not as good as the mains.
Wild Serai is at The King & Co until 31st January 2015 – definitely get down there, it’s well worth a try.