Musings (more like rambling thoughts) of a Cardiff based lawyer obsessed with food and wine
I am going to try and keep the blog running for as long as I can, as have a few weeks of post in the locker and am really hoping won’t need more than that. Will also be trying out some of the “new” takeaways in Cardiff in the interim (impressive how these people have and continue to adapt to circumstances) and failing that have plenty of wine to drink and witter on about (I know you all so love the wine posts!!!).
Anyhow, before Covid 19 struck, I had another early doors meeting up in London which resulted in me being starving and in need of sustenance before the train back out West.
My recent -ish (time really does fly at my advancing age) post on the rather good Warisan Cafe near Paddington elicited a more positive response than I had expected (post on places in Cardiff or Spain tend to be the most popular on the blog, others less so and wine ones even less so – so of course I am doing more of the latter😁), with lots of people expressing an interest in decent places to eat near Paddington (life will have to get back to normal as some point).
So in search of other places, another day brought me to another Malay.
This time it was Tukdin Flavours of Malaysia on Craven Road, a mere 200 odd yards from Paddington Station.
Inside it is pretty basis, but it is a little less no frills than Warisan Cafe. More like a standard restaurant than a hole in the wall that has been quickly repurposed as a restaurant (a bit the feel of Warisan)
It was gratifyingly full on a Tuesday lunch time and seems be be popular with families of Malay descent (which suggests, as with Warisan, a degree of authentic flavours from home), with two large parties coming in as I left.
The places in halal so no booze or pork in the offing – I recall on one of my trips to Malaysia that a number of the States (Terranganu in that instance) were dry.
The menu is quite large, with an abundance of dishes I recognise from trips to Malaysia (but oddly no beef rendang or roti canai)
and quite a focus on seafood (unsurprising as Malaysia is a peninisula and island nation).
I was on the clock (train to catch) so decided that either a starter
or something from the Hawker’s Delight section of the menu was in order to order.
Whilst hugely tempted by the satay goreng (chicken) in the starters (have very fond memories of cheap as chips satay sticks cooked over charcoal all using a breeze block in Malaysia for about 10p each), I am a sucker for a good nasi lemak.
The first time I had nasi lemak was on the banks of the Sarawak river in Kuching (Borneo). It was raining steering rods at the time and we took shelter in a river side shack and thought whilst we were there we may as well have something to eat.
The nasi lemak was on the menu for the princely sum of 50p (at applicable exchange rates at time) and with one taste I instantly fell in love with what is in effect the nation dish of Malaysia.
Ostensively (like, my other Malay favourites, roti canai) it is a breakfast dish (in reality it is eaten pretty much all day out there), it works a treat as lunch for us Westerners.
Nasi lemak comes in various forms, with the standard components of coconut rice, a sambal, peanuts, crispy anchovies, egg and cucumber often (if you are feeling posh) supplemented by a meat element. Here the meat element was fried chicken, taking the price to £9.90.
What arrived was a fine looking plate, with the all important rice the centre piece (as it should be).
The rice had a good coconut hit to it and whilst very pleasant was (at least to my uneducated palate) lacked a touch the fragrance brought to the party by liberal use pandan leaves.
The other elements were very good including a punchy (garlic heavy – Mrs. SF’s comment was “God what have you eaten – a whole garlic head?” on my return home that evening) sambal (great mixed in with the rice and not too incendiarily hot on the chilli front).
The anchovies were dried, flavour packed and very crispy. These worked well in adding a nice textural contrast to proceedings along with the peanuts, whilst some refreshing cucumber operated (along with the boiled egg) to temper the chilli in the sambal.
The final element was some fried chicken.
Made from thigh meat (much more tasty than breast), this had a good crisp coating (had hoped it would be spicy, but wasn’t really). Decent bit of chicken but I would have preferred a curry (a rendang perhaps) .
Personally I think this dish is fine without meat and would have happily sacrificed the chicken or any meat extra for a drop in price.
All in all a satisfying dish on the value taste and size front.
Got to be pretty happy with that and I certainly left little on my plate.
As mentioned the place is dry, so all drinks were soft in nature.
Lots of interesting Malay options, but as a creature of habit my default in a Malay place is always teh tarik.
The foamy head suggested it had been properly pulled (poured repeatedly from a height between two receptacles to enhance flavour), which is always a good sign.
It was not as achingly sweet as some I had tried and oddly (despite not having a sweet tooth – normally I hate sugar in tea) I rather missed the sweetness. I think this may have been tempered to more suit Western tastes or the heath conscious (so kurang manis aka less sweet).
I rather enjoyed my meal at Tukdin, which offered good flavours and decent portion sizes.
Interestingly the menus here and at Warisan don’t seem to correlate that much, so both offer slightly differing menu experiances.
Value wise I thought this place was pretty good, with a hearty meal and hot drink for £13.40 (sans a tip)
10% was added on as service charge (which I find a bit irritating especially as the bill had a further gratuity option, but it is all very clear on menu that they will be adding to so ….) to make the total bill £14.34.
Would I go back? Yes, it offers a slightly different (menu and cost wise) experiance to Warasin Cafe, but both are worth a visit if you are in that neck of the woods.
I am not sure if they are now doing takeaway (I would have thought they could re- task the kitchen to takeaway pretty easily), but really hope places like this are still there when the battle against this accursed Covid 19 virus is won.
Certainly worth a look when this is all over and normality returns.
Address: 41 Craven Road, London, W2 3BX
Tel: +44 20 7723 6955
Website: click here
Instagram: @TukdinFlavoursof Malaysia
Opening hours: Sat – Thursday: 12.00 – 22:30, Fri: 18.00 – 10.30.