Warming hearts with Malaysian fare in Bayswater


(Above) Mohamed Nasir showing some of the culinary offerings at his Putera Puteri restaurant in London.

(Above) Mohamed Nasir showing some of the culinary offerings at his Putera Puteri restaurant in London.

MALAYSIAN chef Mohamed Nasir Abdul Rahim is undisputedly the King of Malaysian Cuisine in Bayswater, regarded as the most

popular spot among his fellow countrymen in London.

Barely a year after opening a small café in the area where Malaysia Hall is situated, he has now opened a full-fledged restaurant in the neighbourhood.

His café continues to sell halal full English breakfast and other Malaysian favourites such as nasi lemak, roti canai, nasi campur, nasi goreng and teh tarik, while his newly opened restaurant offers a full Malaysian menu.

It is certainly another feather in the cap for this Penangite, who has more than 15 years of working experience in various hotels and restaurants in London, including Berjaya Eden and Holiday Villa.

Mohamed Nasir decided to take up the challenge when an offer to take over an Italian restaurant, located just about 400m from his café, came his way.

Mohamed Nasir at his newly opened restaurant.

.“It was big and I had to absorb some of the workers. But I decided to take up the challenge as I was confident that the many Malaysians in London would support me.

“My customers at the tiny and crammed café literally had no breathing room when it was full. I always felt that my loyal customers, especially the Malaysians, deserve better. I am thankful to them and I have faith in them,” he said, in an interview in London.

Going beyond nasi campur and roti canai, he has added more Malaysian favourites at his restaurant, such as Hainanese chicken rice, Cantonese noodles, mee mamak, curry laksa, assam laksa, mee rebus, mee bandung, char koay teow, nasi kandar and even duck rice.

For dessert, Mohamed Nasir offers kuih Melayu, bubur pulut hitam, ais kacang, bubur kacang, pisang goreng and even churros.

Churro is a fried-dough pastry and often sugar coated snack.

Churros are traditional in Spain and Portugal, from where they originate, as well as the Philippines and now in the United States, especially in theme parks.

Many Malaysians are not aware that Hainanese chicken chop is a Malaysian creation and not found in any European, American or even Australian restaurants except in Malaysia and Singapore.

Said to be created by the Hainanese cooks who worked for their British colonial employers in then Malaya, the chicken chop has always been mistakenly regarded by Malaysians as a Western dish, and they look for the dish when overseas, only to get puzzled looks from the waiters.

Hainanese chicken chop is essentially tender chicken coated in a crunchy batter, smothered in a rich tomato mushroom sauce, with fries on the side.

While Westerners prefer chicken breast, Malaysians have always opted for thigh or drumstick.

At Mohamed Nasir’s Putera Puteri, Malaysians can get a good, mean plate of chicken chop when the cravings kick in, especially during the cold winter season.

“It is definitely one of the bestsellers at my restaurant, I would put it as a recommendation,” he said.

Mohamed Nasir, 43, used the same “Putera Puteri” name from his café for his restaurant, saying it was something he regarded as a “Malaysian treasure”, especially for a Penangite.

“Penang is always close to my heart. I chose the 1960s patriotic song, Putera Puteri, composed by fellow Penangite Jimmy Boyle, as the name of this cafe, and I wanted to retain it for this new restaurant when it was opened in October,” he said.

As proof of his patriotism, Mohamed Nasir flies the Jalur Gemilang at his café, and he intends to put one up at his restaurant, too.

The cafe and restaurant have become popular hang-outs for Malaysians, including many VIPs, when they visit London.

Mohamed Nasir is regarded as an “old hand” at Malaysian food in London although he is only 43 years old.

“After I finished secondary school, my parents sent me to get

a Diploma in Culinary Arts in London as my ambition was to become an executive chef in a hotel,” he said.

While studying, Mohamed Nasir worked as a part-time kitchen

helper at international hotels and Malaysian restaurants in London.

He later worked as a speciality chef at Holiday Villa and sous chef at Ramada Jarvis, both in London, before spending a year in Japan to gain some experience in Japanese and Western cuisines.

In 2001, he returned to London and took on the position of sous chef at the Holiday Inn before joining Berjaya Eden Park London Hotel in 2004.

“For breakfast, we even serve half-boiled eggs and kaya toast, which is an all-time Malaysian breakfast, besides nasi lemak and roti canai,” he said.

Putera Puteri café is located at Inverness Place, W2, London, just opposite the Bayswater tube station, while the Putera Puteri restaurant is at 177-179 Queensway, London W2 5HL (Tel: 020 7727 3444)

Central Region