I thought I’d died and gone to heaven, but it turned out I was alive and just happening to be staying around the corner from Satay House. Even in London it isn’t easy to get good SE Asian food and in Geneva, impossible.
The chef is the daughter of the original proprietors and she tinkers to perfect things, but it remains authentic. After eating my way through quite a bit of the menu over a succession of visits, I asked her about the chicken rice – I wasn’t after something that was mucked about. She pointed to her face and said ‘See these bags under my eyes? They are from making chicken rice.’ She wants to get everything right.
And she does. Staples like satays, laksa and kway teow are as good as I’ve had anywhere. Well, maybe Nonya Hut in Syndal does better laksa by a whisker. When I’m in Melbourne and go to Nonya Hut, I always have the laksa because I go there so rarely. I always say to myself if I lived around the corner, then I’d have laksa every other time and try other things too! Here we had that luxury. We sampled the following, some of them more than once and the laksa as many times as was necessary, which is to say, every second visit.
Char-grilled chicken or lamb skewers marinated in spices and herbs, served with peanut sauce, cucumber, rice cubes and onion. 8.60
Tahu Sumbat (v)
Tofu filled with vegetables accompanied with sweet peanut sauce. 4.20
Ayam Bawang Putih
Fried Chicken Wings tossed in garlic and chillies. 6.80
Nasi Goreng Kampung
Fried rice with anchovies, egg, vegetables, prawn in belacan chilli onion base. 8.20
Steamed coconut rice served with prawn sambal, cucumber, peanuts, fried anchovies and boiled egg. 9.30
Beriani rice with chicken or lamb, served with vegetable acar and dalca.
Lamb 10.80 Chicken 9.10
Kway Teow Goreng
Stir fried freshly made flat rice noodles with prawn, squid, egg and vegetables. 13.30
Noodle curry soup with prawn, egg, chicken, tofu and vegetables.
Traditional Malay braised beef with coconut milk and spices. 8.80
Malaysian chicken curry with potatoes. 8.10
Malaysian salad with potato, rice cubes, tofu, beansprouts, fine beans and cucumber served with peanut sauce. 6.60
Famous Malaysian ‘Street Food’ fruit salad with home-made rojak sauce. 6.60
Roti Canai (v)
Home-made traditional bread, with side of dalca.
Plain 4.80 Egg & Onion 5.10
Bread filled with minced lamb, egg and served with pickled onions and dalca. 6.80
* * *
The only thing we had on the menu we wished we hadn’t was:
Spiced lamb and potato cutlets. 4.20
Rather insipid mashed potato with some lamb in there somewhere. I didn’t understand the point of these and it was the only thing we ordered there which was left unfinished.
It was my opinion that the Rendang did not use the right cut of beef, it needs something fatty and sinewy that will be soft and juicy when cooked and this one failed in that regard. The gravy was good all the same.
The ambience is wonderful. Firstly I can’t believe that they have managed to provide a proper restaurant setting at the prices charged. Secondly, it feels like a family place, all the staff have the air of belonging there, like it wasn’t just a job.
On day one, after we’d demolished the Rojak, the chef came out to ask our opinion. They were trying to get the sauce ‘just right’. That set the tone for our lunches there for the rest of the trip and I’m already hankering to go back.
NOTE: booking is highly recommended.