Tuesday 8 September 2009

Review: Rasa Sayang (Malaysian & Singaporean), London

Prawn Noodle

I've become a big fan of Rasa Sayang on Macclesfield Rd (opposite Dehems pub) so much so that I've been unfaithful to my usual Chinatown haunt, Hung's. I’ve been working my way through their menu but as I'm currently on the soup noodles trail, I decided to try their fragrant prawn noodles (£6.90). This dish originates from Penang where it's called Hokkien mee. However in other parts of Malaysia and Singapore, it’s known as hae mee, har mein or xia mian depending on what Chinese dialect you speak.

Rasa Sayang's version includes chicken, fish cake, fish ball, squid, boiled egg, beansprouts, tung choi (water spinach) and fried shallots in a bright red prawn based broth. I was offered the choice of noodles or rice vermicelli (mei fen) of which I chose the latter, although I'm pretty sure you're meant to get a combo of both. Oh I nearly forgot the prawns as there were only two not particularly large specimens !

I've eaten prawn noodles in Singapore before and I was sure you got more than two prawns. With that in mind, I did some research and I wasn’t best pleased when I saw this photo on Wikipedia.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

So you could say Rasa Sayang were short changing me on the prawn front ! But once I got over the prawn issue, there wasn't much wrong with this dish except that the squid was tough and chewy. Having said that I don't think I’ll be ordering this dish on my next visit. Nothing wrong with it but for soup noodles, their fish head rice vermicelli soup is far superior.

Verdict: Don't be put off by my slightly negative review of Rasa Sayang, it's a great place for a quick lunch. The service is also far better than the Chinatown norm whether the waitresses are conversing in Cantonese or English.

Other Stuff: A great place to get into Malaysian / Singaporean street food with classics such as Hainan chicken rice, char kway teow, nasi lemak, laksa, roti canai, curry puffs, chee cheong fun etc… I’m slowly working through the menu !

Rasa Sayang on Urbanspoon

{Update Jan 2010 - returned here for dinner, which turned to be better than these prawn noodles}


  1. Awww that is so cute, yeh you should definitely get more than two prawns! Anyway, try Kiasu (Queensway) next time, I love their food and the prawn noodle is amazing!

  2. The lack of prawns still rankles and now I find out there should also be pork rib ! Not been to Kiasu for ages as Queensway is a bit of a trek but I'll definitely try it next time I'm in that part of town. Thanks for dropping by.

  3. Wow - can't say I've ever had Hokkien mee with prawns like that before (Wikipedia photo)!

  4. Hi Su-Lin, thanks for dropping by. I would also love to find out exactly where the 'Wikipedia' prawn noodles photo was taken ! The only clue I have is that the contributor is from Singapore.

  5. The classic Prawn Noodle Soup (or Hae Mee as it is called in Singapore, where I came from originally) has as its base a fragrant stock made from prawn heads and shells fried in lard, to which a little pork stock is then added and the whole lot mashed with a ladle or spatula until the liquid turns bright orange with the pigment from the prawn shells and the prawn roe. The stock should be made from a mixture of pork meat (belly or shoulder), pork ribs and a pig tail and flavoured with a chili sambal. The noodles should be a mixture of thick Hokkien yellow noodles and the fine rice vermicelli (beehoon or mifen). The prawns from which the shells were used are then cooked in the same stock and served together with the noodles with sambal belacan and cut local limes (kalamansi). The bowl of noodles should be topped with crisp fried shallot slices and bits of lardons (little cubes of fried pig fat). At least this is my memory of the dish which I ate growing up in 50s and 60s Singapore, especially in the hawker stalls along Hokkien Street. Naturally a more health-conscious generation has now eschewed the lard and fatty parts of the pig, and the dish has lost a lot of its character. I try to make hae mee at home sticking to the old ways (as taught to me by relatives) but I must admit not TOO often!

  6. By the way you certainly would NOT get this type of Hokkien Prawn Mee Soup at Rasa Sayang, as the restaurant is halal and does not serve pork or pig products in any form.

  7. Anon - thanks for your detailed insight into the classic prawn noodle as it should be made. I wish I was a time traveller so I could taste the 'hae mee' in Singapore back in the day.