One of London’s swankiest Malaysian restaurants, Awana cossets its diners with lush swathes of teak and burgundy leather. For a more casual bite, perch at the satay bar, where the little skewers are top of their class, holding the likes of tender organic chicken or scallops, served with a peanut sauce that’s lifted by a hint of lemongrass. Lunchtimes tend to be quiet affairs, but the room was busy at dinner.
The menu is long and somewhat confusing, and the kitchen has added a few twists to the standard Malaysian repertoire. Lobster tail, for instance, lends a touch of luxury to the otherwise simple hawker’s plate of char kway teow (stir-fried flat rice noodles). We lapped up a tasty beef rendang, but a curry of fish and prawns, simmered with tomato and okra, lacked spice.
Awana’s flavours have a tendency to be muted, and prices are high. The upside is that ingredients are of a noticeably high quality – unlike much of the competition. We ended our meal with bakar kirim durian, an innovative take on crème brûlée that featured stinky durian fruit infused with vanilla.