London has a huge number of Chinese restaurants, many that are quite good, and others that are easily avoidable. In contrast, Singaporean and Malaysian restaurants are a little harder to come by. I’ve been meaning to visit one that is really close to me on Westbourne Grove, the C&R Restaurant, and last night was a good a time as any. C&R is strangely decorated for an Asian restaurant, with plain white walls and dim lighting giving a little bit of a sterile feel.
Tables are moved about to form smaller groups, though I found it slightly discomforting with our table moved to a mere 4cm away from the next one. It wasn’t a problem for us last night, but it could be if you were sitting next to some really loud people. The menu arrived with a small bowl of complementary prawn crackers, and I was impressed with the variety stretching from Chinese, Malaysian, Singaporean and Indonesian dishes. Even the drinks include a number of more classic Asian drinks including sugar cane juice and warm Milo! We decided to have the Mee Goreng, and the Singapore Noodles and a side of vegetables. The dishes took a long time to arrive, and I was surprised that they didn’t even ask us if we wanted more drinks throughout our waiting.
Out of the three dishes, I most enjoyed the Mee Goreng noodles since it seemed to have, what I thought of as, the right level of smokiness, sweetness and heat. The vegetables with garlic were the next bet, though very greasy and with an obvious touch too much sherry added. I was most disappointed with the Singapore Noodles that were both excessively soupy and lacked heat of any kind. I ended up having to ask for some chilli to add to it to give it some semblance of proper Singapore Noodles.
I don’t normally have desserts when I eat Asian food, but seeing as they had some dishes you don’t see anywhere, we decided to try the Ice Kachang. An ice kachang is designed perfectly and is a must have dish if you end up in the food courts of Singapore or Malaysia to take the edge of the ridiculous heat and humidity. The dish is typically made of heapings of sweetcorn, grass jelly, red beans (amongst many other subtle variations), topped with shaved ice followed by drizzlings of evaporated milk and a variety of sweet syrups. I think it’s nice that C&R attempts to provide it, and though it certainly serves the purpose of refreshing the palette is definitely not worth the £4 it costs.
C&R has a lot of going for it if you a reminiscent of some more regional Asian dishes, but I think it falls short of anything really authentic, especially if you consider the lack of Asians eating in the place. Their food is rather average and I’m sure there are places that serve better Malaysian, Singapore or Indonesian food, but is okay if you happen to be in the area.
Details: C&R Restaurant
Found on: 52 Westbourne Grove, London, W2 5SH
Contactable on: 0871 0757874
Highlights: Good variety of regional Asian dishes, not easily found in London. Most food is priced quite reasonably still and you get free prawn crackers.
Room for improvement: Half the dishes fell short of average quality, tables were really too close together and the setting seemed a little sterile for my liking.
The Kua Rating: 6 out of 10