- Food & Drink
The geography of the London in my mind and the London that really exists doesn’t always match up. When I think of Shoreditch and Old Street, I think of small, twisting streets; dark, leaning buildings held together with scaffolding; and a howling strip of traffic bulldozing its way through them. Restaurants around there are steamy windowed canteens or hushed, hidden parlours of wealth. They aren’t nicely lit rooms sat on Old Street with big windows, pistachio walls and Pan Pipe Moods humming away in the background.
So I didn’t recognise Sedap as the Sedap on Old Street that everyone wrote dribblingly enthusiastic reviews of last year. I thought it was an incongruous looking place amid Old Street’s grim greyness, but probably the best bet for two woman exhausted by several hours steaming in the Turkish baths. It also looked really busy, which is encouraging, so Bellerina and I went in to plead for dinner. We were rewarded with a small table scrunched up in the little back room.
A few minutes after we’d sat down, our waiter came to ask if we’d like a bigger table. Being British, we weren’t sure how to respond to this, so we ummed and ahhed in an ever so humble way. We’re happiest making the best of things and a bigger table was a luxury too far. Eventually our waiter prised us away from our corner and led us to a table for six in the front room, where we could sprawl and gambol all night.
We ordered a mix of dishes that arrived roughly at the same time and Tiger beers to wash it down. Lemak prawn was my choice and I deserve a pat on the back for making it. Plump prawns floated in a rich coconut sauce with a hint of chilli that licked around the edges of my mouth. I could have been served the sauce poured over rice and counted myself happy.
Bellerina had chosen Beef rendang, a curry that defined savouriness. Gravy was the first thing of thought of when I tasted it, then meatiness and then more spice than I’d originally assumed. The coconut rice we’d ordered was a good foil for it, and the kerabu vegetable salad the perfect dish to follow. Strips of cucumber and textured chunks of jelly fungus in a lime and sugar dressing, it was sweet-sharp and refreshing. As Bellerina observed, if all salads were like this, you’d have no trouble getting people to eat them.
Because we can’t resist an aubergine, we also ordered Sambal brinjal. Smoky pan-fried halves of aubergine were topped with home-made shrimp paste and chunks of prawn. The shrimp paste was strongly flavoured, difficult to manage if you’re not used to the musty, stinky, salty taste. I just about coped and ate the lot, made easy when the aubergine is so delicious, but the shrimp paste came close to proving a challenge. There’s still some taste buds I need to develop.
The bill was £32, plus service, and the staff were cordial and quick. This was one of my favourite meals of the month and if I’m ever stuck in the concrete and cobble jungle of the inner East End, then I’ll make the most of it with a meal at Sedap.