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Awana - The Malaysian restaurant in Chelsea

85 Sloane Avenue
London SW3
Tel: 020 7584 8880

I have always loved Malaysian food ever since I went there on a backpacking trip some twenty years ago. When cooked well it has to be one of the most exciting styles around. An exotic blend of three different cultures, Indian, Chinese and Malay has resulted in the creation of dishes that are as inspiring and diverse as its population.

The first thing I noticed as I sat down for lunch at Awana (a Malaysian restaurant in Chelsea) was the size of our table for two. It was not only large but also it was comfortable which made for a good first impression. Indeed, it soon became apparent that Awana was the sort of establishment that one could not fail to be impressed by. Once inside the décor is an inviting combination of teak wood, leather banquettes, low level lighting and dark fabrics. The set menu ‘a Malaysian journey’ is priced at £45.00 and as the name suggests is a taste of some of the many dishes influenced by the variety of cultures. If you have vegetarians in your party there is an alternative version of the same menu priced at £40.00. To drink we tried a bottle of the house white; Australian Mango Bay Semillon Chardonnay 2006, (£19.00) which was a clean, crisp and flinty pairing that was all too easy to quaff back.

The set menu was a progression of several dishes. We began with a corn fed chicken skewer served with a luscious peanut dipping sauce. With this came a wonderfully soft and warm roti bread and curry sauce. Here we immediately tasted the influences of both Malay and Indian flavours on one plate, the delight being how well they merged together. To follow was a wonderfully fresh pomelo (an Asian fruit) salad, infused with green mango, tiger prawns, and chillies which was an overall taste sensation. After the salad came baked lamb ribs with a sticky sauce along with a light and subtly flavoured thin prawn and chicken wonton broth. A slow cooked beef curry (that had some four hours cooking) with coconut milk and blended herbs was rich and succulent, and came served together with some spicy tofu and fragrant rice.

We finished each with a trio of three puddings which was included in the set menu. A creamy and luscious coconut ice cream, a chilli and lemongrass sorbet with a punchy kick and a fabulously exotic banana cheesecake. If you so wish it is possible to match the above menu with a range of suggested wines by the glass which makes for an interesting further foray into the wine list.

Eight dishes would appear to be quite a feast. However we departed feeling full of vitality and not in the least bit soporific, the overall feeling was we had indulged albeit healthily. Our journey had proved highly enjoyable and the very attentive and professional staff added to the experience considerably. ‘Awana’ means ‘in the clouds’ which is rather how we felt. With its varying menu and welcoming atmosphere it makes it suitable for many occasions: a business lunch, dinner with friends or an express budget bite on the hop.

Louise Elgin. January 2009

‘ Lunch Express’
2 courses @ £12.50 with a glass of wine
3 course @ 15.00 with a glass of wine
Tasting menu lunch £10.00
‘ A Malaysian Journey’ menu £45.00 / £40 vegetarian option
House wine £19.00 a bottle


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