This was my first visit to a Malaysian-European restaurant. The decor straddles the two cultures: there are Asian religious prints and pink flowers which I associate with Chinese restaurants on the tables, yet the place maintains a certain modern European minimalism. The overall effect is warm and pleasant.
The menu alternates familiar-sounding European dishes like fillet of sea bass (£12.50) with Malaysian ones like ayam masak lemak (£10.50) -- only it doesn't actually give any indication of what that might actually involve. Well, we are always game for a challenge and so ordered blindly as it were.
The cucur badak (£5) turned out to be rather tasty little sweet potato patties, stuffed with prawns, vegetables, rice and all manner of spices and served with slices of pineapple a yoghurt dip to take an edge off the spiciness.
The roti canai (£4.00), traditional Malaysian flat bread to me tasted like a sweetened sheet of puff pastry. It turned up with three little sides -- some pink pickled onions, a dark fruity pickle and some yellow dhal-like substance that tasted of split peas. I think the yoghurt from the other starter would have worked better.
For mains, ayam masak kicap (£10.50) featured moist, generous-sized and well-cooked chicken which was rather spoilt by a thick, dark, sweet sauce in which the husband detected traces of liquorish (I didn't). It would have gone OK with duck, but completely overpowered the chicken.
The ikan Asam pedas (£12.50) was much better, a creamy, coconuty fish curry, with a sauce not dissimilar to those found in Thai cooking. Both dishes came with a little mountain of rice, some pickles and a little pine-apple heavy side garnish.
The drinks list is unexciting (Malaysian beers or wines - if they exist? - are not represented), but pleasing enough. The waitress knowledgeable suggests a Vionier as an alternative to the out-of-stock Vino Verde, but we go for the New Zealand Sauvingon Blanc instead (£17.50). There's also a large selection of booze by the glass.
Conclusion: two good dishes, two not so good. Normally, that wouldn't warrant a return visit in an area amply supplied with great restaurants. But I liked the feel of the place, and was intrigued by the concept, so may well be back. Perhaps next time I'll try some of the European dishes.
54, 54 Farringdon Road, EC1 3BL; Tel. 0207 336 0603; Tube: Farringdon; www.54farringdon.com; They are on toptable, currently offering various deals, including 50 percent off food on Mondays and Tuesdays.
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