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.