85 Sloane Avenue, London SW3 3DX|020 7584 8880 | www.awana.co.uk
You walk through the entrance to Awana and you are immediately aware that you hae stepped into a stylish, well designed space. Deep honey coloured wood is the main decorative feature, from the cladding to the walls, the tables, chairs and even the flooring. A great deal of thought appears to have gone into the creation of this appealing and comfortable space. Set, as it is in Sloane Ranger territory, in Sloane Avenue, Belgravia/Chelsea, the restaurant reflects the opulence of the area, yet it is warm and very inviting.
This was our first visit to the restaurant and we were encouraged by the waiting staff to take the ‘Malaysian journey’ option on the menu. Comprised of ten varied dishes served over five courses, it made good sense to us, as novices of Malaysian food, to have what is effectively a tasting menu, and at £45 per head, we thought it was a good price. Our journey started with beautifully tender, perfectly cooked corn-fed chicken skewers and roti canai (a kind of pancake/bread) served with a lovely spicy peanut sauce which had a touch of tangy heat from the lemongrass that is part of its makeup, these were also accompanied by small dishes of dhal and a good flavoured red curry sauce. Following this was rojak buah, a fruit salad served with a tamarind dipping sauce, which worked well together and on the same board, salad sajian Laut, a lovely fresh salad of king prawn, crab meat sat on a crunchy, salad in a lettuce shell. The third wave of ‘starter’ dishes was rusuk kambing panggang, tasty char shui style lamb ribs that were served ,again on a board together with a bowl of bungkusan ayam dan udang, a prawn and chicken wanton soup, which had great flavour, and the wonton good texture. All five starter dishes were very different yet complemented one another incredibly well.
Our main course was the rendang dagin awana, a slow cooked thick beef curry that left the meat tender, but with some bite, this had some serious flavour, from the coconut milk, herbs and spices. I really dislike coconut, one of the few foodstuffs I can say that about, but it didn’t taste of coconut, it was a great dish. This was accompanied by a dish of slightly sticky fragrant rice (nasi putih) and a bowl of istimewa, stir-fried tofu with shitake corn and sugar snap peas in another good soup, its delicate freshness offsetting the depth of flavour of the curry extremely well.
Dessert was a good coconut ice cream, I am told, (mine swapped for an amazing chocolate and lemongrass ice cream) with lemongrass and chilli sorbet that was seriously tingly and lovely, together with these we had kuih pisang manis, a delicate, light, but nicely flavoured banana cheesecake.
The Malaysian journey is a great meal, lots of different vibrant flavours that play with your taste buds, bringing them alive, almost making them dance in your mouth. With our meal we tried both the house white and red wines, the white had some body which went well with these spicy dishes, the red, nicely soft and round also with good body.
Our service was efficient and very courteous, the waiting staff were both attentive and helpful. This was a great introduction to authentic Malaysian cuisine, excellent vibrant dishes with clean fresh flavours that excite your mouth. Awana is well worth visiting either to take the Malaysian journey or to choose from the extensive a la carte menu, take a look at their website, www.awana.co.uk it will give you a clear idea of the restaurant’s style and their food.