We got a taste of home early in the week when we were treated to dinner, a little thank you gesture by the United Kingdom and Eire Council for Malaysian Students for volunteering at their careers fair. Malaysian food seemed like the natural choice as we were invited to dine at the Holiday Villa Hotel, one of the popular spots for Malaysian student events.
Holiday Villa Hotel & Suites London
37, Leinster Gardens,
London W2 3AN,
Tel : 00 44 (0) 20 7258 0269
Fax : 00 44 (0) 20 7723 7295
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
I had heard much about the hotel and its Malaysian-Chinese restaurant, Lagenda but had never paid a visit until then. We had a room to ourselves - with the rest of London shut out and with the unmistakable smell of sambal belacan in the air, it really felt like we could have been back home. The sambal was a hit (for most of us) and by the time the main dishes were served, there really wasn't much left to go around. Like most of the Malaysian food in London, it was slightly milder in terms of spicyness but nevertheless had that taste that we all know and love.
The food was the typical fare of can-never-go-wrong dishes - vegetable soup, stir-fried mixed vegetables, fried chicken, fish curry, beef rendang, vegetable omelette and taufu sambal
The fish curry, before we cleaned every bit off, gravy included. I think that fish curries, like most curries are a matter of personal tastes. I tend to lean towards the slightly more sour ones with lots and lots of okra, all soft and bursting from the absorbed gravy. The colour of the gravy was commented upon at the table but we did agree that it tasted quite authentic and perhaps more like a gulai than a curry. The fish was not as fresh as I would have liked it to be but then again, growing up in a seaside town does spoil you when it comes to seafood.
The stir-fried mixed vegetables that seems to be a regular feature at any Malaysian meal. Also pictured here, air sirap - and it had never tasted this good.
The taufu sambal that was a last minute add-on for the vegetarian at our table and which we agreed was the best dish out of all. Yes, right up there with the sambal belacan. For once, it was not a watered down version of the one we get back home - flavours were strong and the colour the slightly scary red that only Malaysians would be used to. It did not take long for the non-vegetarians to start digging in, too.
It's funny how the things we take for granted back home are the ones that make our day here - simple pleasures like sambal belacan and air sirap. To think we used to complain endlessly about the air sirap back in college only to request for refill after refill over here.
I guess that's what they mean by "Let us manja U" - giving us a taste of home.