Satay House was opened in 1973 by the late Jaafar A. Shawal with his wife Zaharah Hashim. They had already established one of Malaysia’s first fine-dining restaurants in Kuala Lumpur called the Shawal Restaurant, and operated a hotel and beach resort on the West coast of Malaysia.
The couple wanted to bring traditional authentic Malaysian cuisine to the increasing Malaysian community in London and to share the cuisine with the rest of the population. It’s been a favourite haunt for Malaysian expats as well as locals who enjoy its relaxed atmosphere. These days, their daughter Fatizah Shawal continues to run the restaurant.
Malaysian cuisine isn’t Chinese and it isn’t Indian. It has been influenced by both, along with Nyonya (Straits Chinese) and the dishes of Borneo. It has some familiar flavours but others which might be new to you. Satay House specialises in the traditional ‘Malay’ style of cooking. It has quite a cult following amongst the local Malaysian population and that’s a sure sign that the food is authentic.
Satay House is a bright and modern oasis. It seems quite small but there is a lower ground floor which can seat 35-40 guests. It’s a cosy spot with an alcove accommodating those who want a bit of privacy. The large tear-drop lamps give an agreeable retro ambiance.
The menu is quite comprehensive, with, reassuringly, some dishes that even a diner new to Malaysian food might at least have heard of. Ask the waitress for her advice on combinations of dishes.
We ordered Keropok (prawn crackers) and Satay (skewers of char-grilled chicken or lamb marinated in spices and herbs, served with peanut sauce), which is something that most would have tried before, but these were moist and flavourful and a good start to our exploration.
Nasi Putih (steamed basmati rice) was served with our Kari Kambing (Malaysian lamb curry) and Ayam Percik (grilled chicken cooked in coconut milk and spices). Many high-street restaurants have shortcuts to food preparation; some use one base sauce for all dishes and just add different spices to finish. All the dishes here tasted individually prepared. The chicken in particular was meltingly tender and the large chunks of flesh made the meal quite substantial.
Sambal Tumis Udang (prawn in spicy sambal chillies) was spicy but not overpoweringly so. This should be a signature dish for Satay House. It packs a punch of flavour as well as heat.
Daging Goreng Kicap (stir-fried beef in soy sauce, peppers and chopped chillies) was the best I have tasted and was tender and rich. A definite favourite of my carnivore guest.
This was my first visit to Satay House. I found the food to be light without the all-too-common oil-slick, delicious and well prepared. The menu offers lots of dishes that are worth trying and would be enjoyed by those who already have a love of Asian food. It’s good value for money in a convenient location between Paddington and the Edgware Road.
Open 7 days a week.
Opening hours are:
Lunch: 12noon – 3.00pm
Dinner: 6.00pm – 11.00pm
13 Sale Place, Paddington, London W2 1PX
Phone: 020 7723 6763
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018