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Tom Parker Bowles & Charlotte Kristensen: YOU magazine’s brilliant restaurant critic and wine expert

EATING OUT

In Bayswater, London, Tom finds an unassuming little Malaysian restaurant that’s big on quality 

The late and very great Jonathan Gold, restaurant critic for the Los Angeles Times, once decreed that, ‘If the restaurant you have been directed to lies between the 7-Eleven and the dry cleaners in a dusty strip mall, then you’re probably at the right place.’ Amen to that. 

There aren’t too many dusty strip malls in Bayswater, but there is Queensway Market where, once you’ve passed the Brazilian café, phone-repair shop and Uzbek canteen, you’ll find Normah’s, a Malaysian classic.

And if you wander down Queensway, and take the first right into Inverness Place, you’ll find Med Salleh Kopitiam, hidden away in a typically bland tourist hotel on the junction.

In Bayswater, London, Tom finds an unassuming little Malaysian restaurant that’s big on quality. Slice of life: Hainanese chicken rice, ‘elegantly poached on the bone’ In Bayswater, London, Tom finds an unassuming little Malaysian restaurant that’s big on quality. Slice of life: Hainanese chicken rice, ‘elegantly poached on the bone’

In Bayswater, London, Tom finds an unassuming little Malaysian restaurant that’s big on quality. Slice of life: Hainanese chicken rice, ‘elegantly poached on the bone’

In fact, had I not got the tip-off from Henry Taylor, serious eater and restaurant PR (although he doesn’t represent this one), I would have never known it was there.

But once in the room, with its blue neon lights and photos plastering the walls, as well as an endearingly random bicycle, electric guitar and ancient TV, I knew this would be a lunch to remember.

OK, so it’s more restaurant than traditional kopitiam (Southeast Asian coffee shop), but there’s no doubting the quality of the cooking.

A vast oyster omelette, slightly frazzled at the edges, and still gooey in the middle, is studded with gently saline bivalves. Then a pair of sardine curry puffs, the pastry crisp, burnished and slightly blistered, the filling just on the right side of pungent. Satay chicken is charred from a spell over hot coals, thick cut and slightly fatty.

Char kuey teow – flat rice noodles with prawns and clams – has that all important wok hei (breath of the wok), while prawn and okra belacan (the okra crisp, the prawns still blessed with bouncy bite) is made great by home-made sambal, all slow-building heat and proper prawn pong.

Best of all is Hainanese chicken rice, that comfort-food classic. The chicken is elegantly poached on the bone, the ginger minced fine, the dark soy sauce speckled with coriander and the rice cooked in chicken fat. Hooray.

The prawns are blessed with bouncy bite 

The broth, though – languidly delicate, with a hearty jolt of white pepper – takes it to another level. I can’t help but slurp the whole bowl. Another reappears within seconds. ‘You like it?’ asks our lovely waiter. Hell yes. Give me a ring and I’d marry it.

About £25 per head. Med Salleh Kopitiam, 35-39 Inverness Terrace, London W2; medsalleh.co.uk

DRINKS: Charlotte’s top tinned tipples

I was living in New York when I started working in the drinks business. Summer saw citizens plucking cool cans from raffia handbags, and ordering them at hip bars. Now, from rosé to red, zingy cocktails to zero-alcohol, the UK has embraced the revolution. Crack these open…

Move over, mojito! Here’s a lime-infused, sugar- and alcohol-free bubbly from a UK brand that focuses on sustainability Move over, mojito! Here’s a lime-infused, sugar- and alcohol-free bubbly from a UK brand that focuses on sustainability

Move over, mojito! Here’s a lime-infused, sugar- and alcohol-free bubbly from a UK brand that focuses on sustainability 

SPARKLING BLANC DE BLANCS 2022 (12%), £16.50 for three, cannedwine.co SPARKLING BLANC DE BLANCS 2022 (12%), £16.50 for three, cannedwine.co WILD STEPS ORGANIC CHARDONNAY 2021, MENDOZA (13%), £4.75, vincancan.co.uk WILD STEPS ORGANIC CHARDONNAY 2021, MENDOZA (13%), £4.75, vincancan.co.uk

I was living in New York when I started working in the drinks business. Summer saw citizens plucking cool cans from raffia handbags, and ordering them at hip bars

TERRE DI FAIANO ORGANIC PRIMITIVO PUGLIA (13.5%), £3.49, Waitrose TERRE DI FAIANO ORGANIC PRIMITIVO PUGLIA (13.5%), £3.49, Waitrose MARKSOLOGIST PINK GRAPEFRUIT PALOMA (14%), £3.50, M&S MARKSOLOGIST PINK GRAPEFRUIT PALOMA (14%), £3.50, M&S

Now, from rosé to red, zingy cocktails to zero-alcohol, the UK has embraced the revolution. Crack these open…

SPARKLING BLANC DE BLANCS 2022 (12%), £16.50 for three, cannedwine.co. Champagnestyle bubbles in a can? This is the one: citrus-tinged, effervescent and giving a mineral-dry finish.

DASH LIME SPARKLING WATER (0%), £4.50 for four, ocado.com. Move over, mojito! Here’s a lime-infused, sugar- and alcohol-free bubbly from a UK brand that focuses on sustainability. 

WILD STEPS ORGANIC CHARDONNAY 2021, MENDOZA (13%), £4.75, vincancan.co.uk. This Argentinian white tastes of peach and mango. Each purchase helps its charity partners too.

TERRE DI FAIANO ORGANIC PRIMITIVO PUGLIA (13.5%), £3.49, Waitrose. The company has swapped all of its small bottles for a can format. Try this Puglian red, with dark fruit and smoky notes.

MARKSOLOGIST PINK GRAPEFRUIT PALOMA (14%), £3.50, M&S. This cocktail evokes the magic of a tropical island… I love the warmth of the tequila lifted by the zesty grapefruit 

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