FOR some reason, Bayswater is a favourite spot for many Malaysians visiting London.
For Malaysian students, the Malaysia Hall canteen, which serves halal food, is located at Queensborough Terrace in the vicinity.
And of course, the two famous restaurants selling roasted duck – the Gold Mine and Four Seasons restaurants.
Just opposite the Queensway station is Mandarin Kitchen, which has established itself as a culinary institution, especially for its highly rated lobster noodles.
Bayswater continues to be a magnet for weary Malaysian travellers, who use London as a base to venture to other parts of Europe, as well as catch up with the Malaysian diaspora in the United Kingdom.
Then, there are Muslims who need to look for halal food, and Bayswater is the preferred place.
The newest addition is the Med Salleh Kopitiam, which is just about two months old, at the Berjaya Eden hotel.
It may be new, but it has been getting rave reviews and during my one-week stay in London recently, I observed it was packed for both lunch and dinner.
One regular customer I met there was our High Commissioner to the UK, Zakri Jaafar.
Med Salleh serves the all-time Malaysian favourites, nasi lemak, satay, nasi goreng, roti canai, curry laksa, Cantonese fried noodles and half-boiled eggs, among others.
But its top seller is Hainanese chicken rice, which is almost impossible to find in other Malaysian restaurants or Chinese eateries.
For a Penangite who has publicly declared that only Penang’s white curry mee is authentic, I must confess that I thoroughly enjoyed the curry laksa at Med Salleh.
But the char kuey teow was a letdown.
Perhaps my expectations were different, thinking it would be like the Penang-style char kuey teow with prawns and cockles.
What I was served was very much like the Hong Kong-style fried kuey teow.
The other surprise items on the menu are the mouth-watering sotong kangkung which is blanched water spinach cooked with tender cuttlefish in thick sweet sauce, and ikan bakar or grilled-fish wrapped in banana leaves.
Med Salleh restaurant is run by the team of Pang Kuin Poi (aka Med Pang), Yap Koi Lee and Sherrie Looi.
Pang, originates from Ipoh, Perak, and Yap, who comes from Raub, Pahang, met when they were working together in a Chinese restaurant in 2014. By then, both had ambitions of owning a restaurant.
“We kept our eyes and ears open. While we knew how to cook, we sharpened our cooking skills, realising that restaurant owners must always know how to take over the kitchen.
“Then, there are the aspects of running the management of a restaurant with knowledge in cost overheads, staff relations, ensuring fresh supplies stocks as well as engaging with customers,” said Pang.
Last year, they opened the Spice Lab, featuring Malaysian street food, at Marcado Mayfair in North Audley Street, which has become a cultural hub of worldwide food.
However, they made the decision to open the Med Salleh restaurant at Berjaya Eden when they were told that the previous operator had exited, a few months ago.
“We had no second thoughts because we know that this is a favourite stop for visiting Malaysians.
“We know this place well.
“While there are other halal food outlets selling Middle Eastern food, nothing beats halal Malaysian food,” Yap added.
Besides word-of-mouth testimony from regular customers, they are glad that regulars have posted pictures of their visits and food on social media especially Instagram with their hashtag.
There is also a section in the menu catering to vegetarians as well as Western food, for those not familiar with Malaysian cooking.
But Med Salleh restaurant offers a good place for Malaysians who miss home and want to see friendly fellow Malaysians walk into the eatery.
Who knows, we may bump into each other at Med Salleh.
MED SALLEH KOPITIAM,
35-39 Inverness Terrace, London W2, 3JS, United Kingdom.
(Opposite Bayswater Station. Located at Berjaya Eden Park London Hotel)
Business hours: 8am to 3pm, 5pm to 10pm (weekdays), 8am to 9pm (Sundays), 8am to 10.30pm (Saturdays).
This is the writer’s personal observation and is not an endorsement by StarMetro