MTV boyfriend and I went on a date on Tuesday night. You have to do that sort of thing every now and again when you have been going out for as long as we have. We opted for a £3.50 movie (what a bargain, Tuesdays only at the Coronet in Notting Hill) and were looking for a cheap meal beforehand. We decided that Time Out’s 2007 Cheap Eat’s winner, Kiasu in Bayswater would fit the bill perfectly.

Kiasu promises food from the straits of Malay (Malaysia and Singapore) which is described as “a melting pot of culture” so also offers Vietnamese, Indonesian, Chinese and even Thai dishes. The lights are harsh and bright at Kiasu and the decor is even brighter. Banquette seating covered in lurid blue snakeskin (yes really) lines one wall and the tables are crammed in. Having garnered rave reviews and awards since opening Kiasu is always busy but if there are not too many of you it is usually possible to get a table without booking.

MTV boyfriend and I are almost incapable of seeing spring rolls listed on a menu and not ordering them so we are helpless in the face of Kaisu’s starters. Due to a concern that the three vegetarian spring rolls in a serving are not going to be enough we order two sets between the pair of us. The spring rolls are huge so this is quite unnecessary and since we discussed this issue with our waiter we are a bit annoyed that he did not point this out. Nevertheless, the crisp cigars of pastry enfolding shredded vegetables are perfectly good and are served with a spicy chilli dip (pictured above).

Kiasu’s signature dish is probably the Char Kway Teow which are wok fried rice noodles served with prawns, egg, chinese sausage and bean sprouts. I opt for them to be served Penang style which is with a light soy sauce. The problem is that despite the advertised prawns there is only one lonely prawn in the whole dish. I reread the menu closely and see that it does actually say “prawn” in the singular rather than the plural so I suppose I have no grounds for complaint but I do feel robbed. I ate here last year when Kiasu had just opened and I am sure that the servings were more generous then and that the Char Kway Teow was less bland. A better option is the Nonya Chicken curry which is a red curry with a rich coconut base. The chicken is juicy and the curry has just the right amount of kick to it.

Washed down with a couple of beers Kiasu seems to have upped its prices as well with the grand total coming to about £35 which was more than we were expecting on our “tightarse” Tuesday night date. The bill includes a 10% service charge which seems a bit cheeky in a budget restaurant where service while friendly enough is thin on the ground. I also noted that Kiasu has now instituted minimum spends It is sad to say but I think Kiasu is coasting on its initial good reviews and I would not bother coming back unless it lifts its game.

Details: 48 Queensway, Bayswater W2 3RY (Ph 020 7727 8810)
Damage: Such a bargain even my mother would approve

If you liked this and you are in the mood for cheap noodles you could read about Alan Yau’s latest offering Cha Cha Moon or if you are looking for a feed in Bayswater what about some tapas at El Pirata de Tapas.

Kiasu on Urbanspoon


  1. I 100% agree about Kiasu being disappointing. and by coincidence, when I tried it a year ago, the char kway teow was also bland and missing a few advertised ingredients (in our case, chinese sausage, which I *love*). The problem of skimpy ingredients also showed itself in the curry laksa.

  2. I agree. I went about 6 months ago and thought the food was very average. The initial reviews were good, but I think it’s starting to fall back on its laurels. And with it upping its price, sounds like more reason not to go.

    BTW, I love the new look!

  3. American in London – interesting to hear. I did have chinese sausage but you can see from the photo that it was also thin on the ground.

    A Girl Has to Eat – seems like everyone is in agreement on this one. I do think the food was better when it initially opened. The search continues for decent London cheap eats.

  4. Hi GC,
    I suppose I am most qualified to comment on Kiasu since well I am from Malaysia. (also in your article it should be straits of Malaya, not Malacca)
    I visited when Kiasu was at its best and before it got rave reviews. The food is not all that, but I suppose when you compare it to other Malaysian restaurants e.g. Suka (if that is even Malaysia), Champor-Champor (urgh!) and Georgetown (so bad I left half the plate as is) I guess thats fair comments. In the spirit of Malaysian food, it was supposed to be a place you could spend £6, get a quick bite and run off.
    Of course thanks to a particular Timeout review, Kiasu became a bit of destination place as you mentioned. On my recent visit, the food was awful. Wat Tan Hor, which is a dish that requires precise timing and good amount of skill was badly handled to the point I had scrambled egg on the plate. The Cendol was… well a lump of ice. The curry in the Nasi Lemak was made from cheap packet paste. To be fair, the one saving grace was the Pai Tee.

    Still with the price hike, its hard to justify eating here when there are many other cheaper places to eat at… wiht better food.

  5. I too found Kiasu disappointing (service was very bad) but that was last year? Not sure – have to go back through my blog posts to find it! I quite liked Rasa Sayang in Chinatown.

  6. Genuiness: Amendment made from Malacca to Malay thanks!

    Su-Lin: thanks for the tip re Rasa Sayang I will have to check it out

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *