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Japanese Rice Risotto with Miso, Lemongrass and Scallops

Japanese Rice Risotto with Miso, Lemongrass and Scallops

Seasonal Penne Mediterraneo

Seasonal Penne Mediterraneo

Persian Split Pea, Dried Lime and Lamb Stew

Persian Split Pea, Dried Lime and Lamb Stew

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

'Awana' Restaurant Redeemed!

I do feel that there is the growing danger that every time I eat out at a restaurant, it becomes a 'review' of sorts and this can't be very healthy. Even if I myself don't do the complaining, the people I'm with seem to expect me to take the lead, which of course I would not refuse. Still, I do seem to be more critical of things than most and this is NOT (I repeat NOT) because I write about food. This is because of my background in Michelin star restaurants, where high standards are the ONLY standards that are acceptable. So this entry isn't really a review, but sometimes when a restaurant's standards are lower than usual and they make the effort to right their wrongs, then it is most definitely worth mentioning.

As you may have guessed from many of my stories, pictures and recipes, I just adore food from the Far East. Vietnamese is currently my favourite, followed by Thai, Korean and Chinese. But what about Indonesian food? And Malaysian food? Don't they get a little share of the love? Well, I love Malaysian food but I'm not sure why it took me so long to visit 'Awana'. I finally made it there last night for a special occasion with 8 other ladies and the bar was packed, the football was on and so we shimmied into the dining room and sat down. The room was empty initially and being a Monday, I thought it was fair enough. Within 15 minutes the dining room was packed out and full to the brim with loud parties making conversation rather difficult and inaudible. The football was also being shown in the dining room, which made me quite uncomfortable.

The menu itself was generous in content, but I found the repetitive statement of “This dish is not included as part of any promotion” tedious and frustrating. A clever ploy to avoid giving 50% discount on certain dishes, should be stipulated at time of booking as it certainly didn't just apply to one or two dishes, but indeed several. This aside, it has to be said that the food was delicious and I honestly wasn't disappointed with anything we ordered and we had ordered A LOT of food.

Fingfer-licking Malaysian Satay skewers of chicken, lamb and prawn... crab and pomelo salad, spicy chicken parcels, deep-fried soft shell crab and salt and pepper prawns were just some of the tasty starters we chose. Main courses were also fantastic and we plumped for whole seabass with lemongrass, chilli and coriander, classic beef rendang, seafood rice noodles, plenty of 'morning glory' greens and of course the infamous Malaysian Roti Canai breads - which although delicious was priced at an eye-watering £6.50 per portion! So this place is not cheap, but they pretty much offer a consistent 50% discount on food (not drink!) via Toptable making it all the more affordable.

Cocktails were also really good, but we did have to send a couple back as we found some ‘unexpected visitors’ floating in the drinks, which were then immediately replaced. There were also few hiccups with ordering and also speed of service, which although they were incredibly busy, is still frustrating. The volume levels were so loud as the party of 25 or so next to us became increasingly drunk and this did affect the accuracy of our orders and toward the end of the evening, the enjoyment of our group. It did feel like being in a very loud pub, which for Chelsea Cloisters, is not what I would expect and I wasn't overly pleased.

I decided to attempt what we Brits cannot ever seem to do and make a complaint. I had a quiet word with the manager about my feelings and he immediately apologised and made a very kind gesture on our bill for the problems incurred. THIS IS THE MARK OF A GOOD ESTABLISHMENT! This is actually what redeemed the restaurant for me again and I thought I would make a special mention because of it.

If only more restaurants actually gave a damn about their customers and really looked after them, restaurant trade would always be consistent and on the up instead of struggling. Problems do arise in restaurants, it is very common and if the food is great and the staff are really very nice but the problems aren't correctly dealt with, would you go back there? I know I wouldn't. However on this occasion, Awana did the right thing by acknowledging my concerns and making a suitable gesture to compensate us and so I will definitely be going back and further more, I would happily recommend Awana to those looking for good Malaysian food.

Awana - 85 Sloane Avenue, Chelsea SW3


  1. The manager is very friendly I have to say. But as a Malaysian, I found some of the food there is not as good as I was expected. Expensive "street food"...

    One dish I would high recommended is the Coconut prawns...sweet and creamy...YUMMMM.....

    (3 king prawns for £20++, if i remembered correctly. AMAZINGLY EXPENSIVE! Restaurants in Malaysia: a plate of the same dish for RM$70++ (Under £7) which is enough to serve at least 4 people!)

    I know I shouldn't compare London prices with Malaysian local prices...but I cannot help it...;-)

  2. Hi Loong, 100% valid point! I wish it could be as cheap as Malaysia, but I suspect that the rent of it's Chelsea location is probably why it is so pricey!

  3. oh my! that food looks delicious!