The best Malaysian restaurants in London aren’t a line-up of shiny, high-end restaurants that are bedecked in all the latest trimmings with fancy-sounding ingredients making up their menu. No, the best Malaysian restaurants in London (we think) are the smaller, family-run outfits that serve up authentic, delicious food with sensible price tags in convivial surrounds.
With its unique combination of flavours and characteristics, Malaysian food is a moreish amalgamation of Indian, Chinese and Arabian cooking techniques. This synergy between some of the world’s most popular cuisines results in spicy Asian food that is highly fragranced with fresh herbs and tempered by the use of lots of coconut milk and cream. Many Malaysian dishes are accompanied by rice, with a popular serving style including a sauce, a salad and grilled meat. One of the country’s most famous dishes is nasi lemak which comprises of a spicy sambal, boiled rice, salty fried anchovies, sliced cucumbers and hard-boiled eggs. This platter of fresh and fried elements is typically served for breakfast in Malaysia but can be eaten at any time of the day, and on our shores is often accompanied by beef rendang, fried chicken or sautéed veggies for a more substantial meal later in the day.
Sounding like something you’d like to tuck into? Despite being fairly underrepresented in the capital, there are places to get delicious Malaysian food in London when you knew where to look. Scroll down for our pick of the best places to enjoy a delicious Laksa or some chargrilled satay.
Why: The striking red dining room at family-run Satay House might hog all the initial attention, but as soon as you’ve settled into your surrounds, you’ll realise that the wide-ranging menu is the main attraction here. Opened in 1973, Satay House is one of London’s oldest Malaysian restaurants and serves up all the classics, as well as some more niche dishes. Stray from the satay and the laksa options to try the daging denden – a beef and lemongrass dish that is stir fried with a spicy marinade for a moreish caramelised flavour.
Where: 13 Sale Place, Paddington, W2 1PX
Why: Arguably London’s most popular Malaysian restaurant, Roti King draws crowds who are willing to queue for its food. As you might suspect from the name, this spot specialises in roti – the flaky, buttery breads that are so popular over huge swathes of Asia. Here you can have your bread stuffed with all sorts of fillings – from chicken and egg to condensed milk and vanilla ice cream – as well as choosing to have lentil dhall come along for the ride, to dunk it in (savoury fillings only here please). Elsewhere on the menu there are noodles dishes as well as classics like beef rendang and nasi goreng.
Where: 40 Doric Way, NW1 1LH
Why: Without a website, Malaysian Deli can be hard to pin down, but once you’ve found this Brockley restaurant your tenacity will be rewarded. Specialising in authentic, delicious home-style cooking the team here major in nasi kerabu kelantanese, which is a platter-type affair with blue rice at its centre. The rice is coloured using flower petals and is usually accompanied by chicken, prawn crackers, pickles and salads. Malaysian Deli also has options for vegetarians and vegans so is a great place for mixed groups.
Where: 338 Brockley Road, Brockley, SE4 2BT
Why: Another queue-inducer, C&R Café is slap bang in the middle of Chinatown and draws quite the line-up of tourists and locals alike, looking for the best Malaysian restaurant in London. Whether it’s the best or not is a matter of opinion, but this small, fast-paced diner certainly serves up some tasty fare. Famed for its rich and unctuous laksa options, C&R Café also have a variety of curry, stir fry and noodles dishes to choose from. Because of demand, eating here can occasionally feel rushed, but when you’re full and it’s cost you under a tenner you probably won’t mind that.
Where: 4-5 Rupert Court, W1D 6DY
Why: With its eclectic interiors and slightly confusing Thai-Malay menu, Champor Champor can feel a little overwhelming to begin with. Dig a little deeper though and you will find a whole host of interesting (if surprising) flavour combinations like roasted squash laksa served with crunchy chickpeas and pomegranate, or roasted monkfish with mango curry puree. Presentation is a little dated – all dollops and smudges – but if you don’t mind that you’re in a good place to enjoy the vibrant, colourful flavours of this London Bridge restaurant.
Where: 62-64 Weston Street, SE1 3QJ
Why: Handily situated near Portobello Road, Makan Café is the perfect place for a quick bite to eat after browsing the weekend markets. Informal, casual and cheap, the interiors are very perfunctory, but the buffet-style setup is extensive, and items are tasty, if not mind-blowing. Straddle the Chinese and Indian influences with starters of spring rolls and samosas before moving on to laksa or nasi lemak for mains. If you’re more of an a la carte eater, there is also a menu for made-to-order items.
Where: 270 Portobello Road, W10 5TY
Why: One of the most polished options in our round up, Rasa Sayang serves up food that looks as good as it tastes. Its punchy, highly fragranced food includes a whole deep-fried sea bass served with okra, onions, dried shrimps, chillies and sambal as well as rich and flavoursome chicken rendang. For pudding don’t miss trying the kueh dadar – pandan pancakes served with desiccated coconut and tooth-achingly sweet palm sugar.
Where: 5 Macclesfield Street, W1D 6AY
Why: Bringing together Malaysian and Indonesian flavours, Melur’s menu spans both countries with ease. Sticking to traditional Malay dishes, why not try the telur dadar, a spicy omelette made with onions and chillies, or the kari daging – a rich black pepper and beef curry. If you work close by you can also take advantage of the lunchtime offers, which see dishes like fried rice with satay skewers served up for just £6.95.
Where: 175A Edgware Road, W2 1ET
Why: Founded by none other than Normah herself, this small and unpretentious Malaysian restaurant serves up authentic, honest dishes at bargain prices. Menu items maintain their freshness thanks to all the curry, soup and noodle pastes being homemade, and a variety of authentic ingredients being used. Try the flaky roti served with dhal or beef rendang, or go for a hearty plate of mee mamak, which is a sweet and spicy noodle dish similar to a pad Thai, which comes with either prawn, tofu or chicken, as well as bean sprouts, crushed peanuts and choy sum.
Where: Normah's 23-25 Queensway Market, W2 4QJ
Why: Unlike some of the other restaurants on our list, this spot serves up breakfast through to lunch only. Begin your day with a traditional sardine sandwich or nasi lemak, or if those sound a little too punchy go for simply buttered kaya toast which combines coconut jam, the flavour of pandan leaves and an egg for an interesting sweet and savoury melange. At lunch mains are all £6 or under and include a Malaysian fish curry, traditional chicken laksa and a rich beef rendang.
Where: Unit 29 Skylines Village, E14 9TS
Why: With its rattan chairs and exposed brick walls, Mamak Don brings together trendy interiors and tasty food. Signature dishes here include a crunchy Malay style fried chicken flavoured with turmeric, ginger, herbs and spices as well as a mutton soup that is slow cooked for beautifully tender results, made with tomato, celery, ginger and aromatic lime leaves. With plenty of main meals under a tenner, this is a cheap and cheerful spot that is perfect for a quick bite to eat with friends.
Where: 9 Parkway, Camden Town, NW1 7PG
Why: No prizes for correctly guessing what the signature dish here is – yep, laksa. With six different options to try they range from a hot and peppery iteration to a rich and creamy coconut-based Singapore-style one. Outside the realms of noodle soup there are giant king prawns topped with spicy rendang sauce and vegan tofu in a hearty, spicy fermented bean paste sauce with mushrooms and preserved veggies. The casual surrounds and open kitchen breed a relaxed yet lively atmosphere which is great for groups to soak up and enjoy.
Where: 92 Newman Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 3EZ
Sambal Shiok laksa bar
Why: Ladies and gentlemen, we have another queue-causing outpost here, this time in North London. Reviewed by the likes of Jay Rayner and Grace Dent, this small restaurant has caused quite the stir. Having started life as a street food stand Sambal Shiok opened as a bricks and mortar site in 2018 to critical acclaim. Come here for heart-thumpingly spicy bowls of laksa made in the traditional way, as well as crispy fried chicken served with a rich peanut dipping sauce.
Where: 171 Holloway Road, N7 8LX
Why: A slightly dated, minimalistic dining room may not scream a warm welcome, but the team at Tukdin will soon make you feel at home, and once you’ve tried the solid, tasty cooking you might not be for moving on very speedily either. Fried rice comes accompanied by easy over eggs to self-sauce, or rich fish sauce flavoured greens for a whack of saltiness, while elsewhere there’s a tasty iteration of charred chicken satay with a spicy sauce and fresh salad accompaniments.
Where: 41 Craven Road, Bayswater, W2 3BX
Why: Certainly the most high-brow entry on our round up of the best Malaysian restaurants in London, Scully comes to the city’s dining scene by way of head chef Ramael Scully who was born in Malaysia, but raised in Sydney by his Chinese/Indian mother and Irish/Balanese father. That combination of cultural influences from his childhood is presented clearly in Scully’s plates of food. Despite dishes being very much international, there are definite Malay touches. Halibut is accompanied by mustard seed potatoes, coconut rempah and peanuts, while a crispy belly pork dish is served with a slick of chilli shrimp jam reminiscent of a sambal. For fine dining with just a hint of Malay flavours, you can’t beat Scully.
Where: 4 St James's Market, St. James's, SW1Y 4AH
Love your food hot and spicy? Try one of the restaurants in our round up of the best places to eat Indian food in London