REVIEW - The Umami Restaurant, Cromwell Rd

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act

The Umami Restaurant,

Cromwell Road

Usually you get Chinese chefs making bad Thai or Indonesian food, and calling it asian fusion.

| By Julian Williams

At Umami they have Malaysian chefs unable to make Malaysian.  The Beef Rendang tasted like an English stew cooked to, no, far beyond death, with some indiscriminate sauce added, the worst dish we had.

The Singapore Curry Laska was the least bad, marred by egg noodles instead of the usual light vermicelli rice glass noodle, and the sauce was too heavy with a spice or two that just shouldn't have been there. Two whole lemons improved it somewhat.

It really is terribly easy to learn how to make a dish well. The chef's don't even have to go on a course. Just downloading a few good recipes from the internet will do. But ingrained habits die hard, particularly amongst chefs.

Its a modern, well kept restaurant in a major hotel, two hundred yards north of Gloucester Road tube. It does Thai dishes as well, but we didn't get to them.

The service was great, except the staff didn't know when to call the manger, so its unlikely anything will get fixed. If it does, Umami will be good value.

Umami Restaurant, 98 Cromwell Road, Kensington, London SW7 4ER. 0207 341 2320

Singapore Laska Recipe

Here's a really great Singapore Laska vermicelli Malaysian soup for four:

You need one large saucepan, and in it put:

Two dessert spoons of coconut oil (never use vegetable oil - it gives you diabetes.)

Five dried chillis (or 1 tsp chilli powder)

Lazy Garlic 2 tsp

Shrimp paste or Malay Belacan 1 tsp

Tumeric 1 tsp

Coriander 2 tsp

Lemon grass 1 tsp (or add a whole lemon later)

Grind the above spices together and fry three minutes on a very low heat.

A large onion, chopped

Coconut milk, a quarter can

Chicken if you wish, 1/2  lb. Finish cooking in 15 minutes.

A pint of water

Less than one serving of glass rice noodles - a small handful.

Fish stock, fish oxo cube, or 1 chicken oxo

Salt - 2 tsp; Himalayan rock salt is best.

Sugar: only if necessary: 1 tsp

Beansprouts - one can, drain it first.

Prawns 1/2 lb, then finish cooking in 5 minutes.

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