Rasa Sayang: Hokkien Prawn Mee

Rasa Sayang: Hokkien Prawn Mee

I had this post figured out weeks ago. At least I thought I had. The subject was to be “Battle of the Malaysians: Kiasu WIN”, and I was going to wax laksaphorical about how amazing Kiasu is and how, given that I’m already marrying Koba, I’d still definitely have an affair with Kiasu… but my plans went a little awry.

Rasa Sayang happened.

I’d already been to C&R and Kopi Tiam a number of times, and… meh, nothing impressive. And although I’d heard very average reviews of Rasa Sayang, I thought I’d give them a go before blogging about Kiasu‘s awesomeness, not because I’m a hokkien prawn mee slut and I’d have it just about anywhere, but because I wanted to be 100% diplomatic, eat there and have my god given right to diss it. 

But the unexpected unexpectedly happened (don’t you hate that?). Rasa Sayang was good.

I don’t even know where to begin with this post. I’ve scrapped my whole draft on “Kiasu WIN” to start all over again and I’m at square negative-one. I can’t think. I’m looking at these photos and all I want to do is eat.

Ok. Breathe. Let’s start with the basics. There are two dishes that I always order at a Malaysian restaurant, two staples that are life threateningly delicious, and easy to compare. One: roti canai (or roti pratha as some may call it).

roti canai: Kiasu vs Rasa Sayang

Roti Canai: Kiasu vs Rasa Sayang

Roti literally means bread in Malay, and roti in this sense is basically a puff pastry style flat bread, tossed and stretched to its airy contentment, served with a side of curry. You tear a piece of roti, dip it in the curry and aim for the gaping hole that is your mouth.. *yum*

I found Kiasu‘s roti much lighter, fluffier and even crispier (win) but Rasa Sayang‘s curry was much spicier (win). D’oh.

My second staple is hokkien prawn mee soup, sometimes also known as har mee, or just hokkien mee. This is a spicy noodle soup, flavoured by a stock made from prawns and pork, an unmissably unique burst of flavours. It’s served with egg noodles, or mee hoon (thin rice noodles) or as I prefer, both.

Kiasu: char kuay teow Singapore style (sweet soy); hokkien prawn mee

Kiasu: Char Kuay Teow Singapore style (sweet soy); Hokkien Prawn Mee

Both restaurants do a very good hokkien prawn mee. The big win for Kiasu‘s is that they serve it with the actual pork ribs, and the meat… wow, it’s been boiled so long that it just glides off the bone straight into your mouth. The big lose for Rasa Sayang‘s? They serve it with chicken! Chicken?! Yikes. Ignoring that absurdly wrong ingredient, the flavour was still good. Actually no, I can’t ignore the chicken. That’s just wrong and in my decades of slutting around with hokkien prawn mee, I hath. never. had. chicken. in. my. soup.

Aside from my staples, I have a number of other favourites from Kiasu, including the chai tau kueh (fried radish cake), or luak (oyster omelette) and the chicken satay, which comes with rice cubes, just like back home. And my boyfriend, he swears by the char kuay teow, Penang style. He had the Singapore style last week, and thought it was a little too sweet. I wouldn’t know, he’s the expert on this dish, so we’ll take his word in good faith!

Wow you see how we can totally get fat together at Kiasu, right?

Rasa Sayang: ayam goreng (fried chicken); nasi lemak

Rasa Sayang: Ayam Goreng; Nasi Lemak

But wait, Rasa Sayang is still in the game. We also sampled the ayam goreng (fried chicken), which was tasty, and nasi lemak, coconut rice served with sides including chicken curry, ikan bilis (fried anchovies), sambal and a hard boiled egg. Both were flavoursome, the chicken was a tad oily but ok, it’s fried chicken, what else did I expect? I finger-lickin’-gooded anyway.

Now, onto dessert!

Kiasu serves my all time favourite pulut hitam (black sticky rice with coconut milk) so win! I also tried their chendol, but there was a serious lacking in stuff – pandan jelly, red beans, grass jelly, anything? Nope, just a lot of ice. Teeny tiny bit disappointing.

Rasa Sayang‘s desserts were pretty good ~ kueh dada, pandan rolls filled with coconut and palm sugar, and sago, with coconut milk and palm sugar. There really wouldn’t have been a problem except that all of their dessert items were based on coconut and palm sugar. Which I guess is fine in my world where there is no limit to the goodness of palm sugar, but if you want something else? I don’t know, maybe pop across the street to Golden Gate Bakery for an egg tart?

desserts: chendol (Kiasu); pulut hitam (Kiasu); kueh dada (Rasa Sayang); sago (Rasa Sayang)

desserts: Chendol (Kiasu); Pulut Hitam (Kiasu); Kueh Dada (Rasa Sayang); Sago (Rasa Sayang)

All in all, the two restaurants were almost on par. Maybe I had a lucky run at Rasa Sayang, who knows, but I’ll definitely go back to try my luck again. The main thing that sets the two apart is service. Kiasu‘s service is excellent, and well Rasa Sayang, they hovered a lot and took my bowl away before I had even finished, and when they brought our mains out before our starters, they actually said “What? You want your starters at the start?” ~ I shit you not.


Also, Kiasu‘s interior is much nicer, and for those of you who don’t know what Kiasu actually means, I won’t spoil it for you, have a read of their wall, you’ll learn some useful Malay phrases!

So overall, I’m pleased to announce that Kiasu still wins, although only by a smidgin.

Note: I still think my most favourite Malaysian joint ever is Mamak in Sydney, and To’s Malaysian, who serve the best assam laksa this side of my momma’s, even if only on Saturdays.

48 Queensway
Bayswater, W2
0207 727 8810

Kiasu on Urbanspoon

Rasa Sayang
5 Macclesfied Street
Soho, W1D
0207 734 1382

Rasa Sayang on Urbanspoon

16 Thoughts on “battle of the Malaysians: Kiasu vs Rasa Sayang

  1. Ha, my sister used to read Kiasu comics (she still has a few at home) so i’m au fait with its meaning 🙂

    Haven’t been to Kiasu in a while but RS’s roti was ok but the curry was ming, really sour and weird tasting.

    Hainanese chicken was bland, a cardinal sin!

    Gonna head to Kiasu soon.

  2. Hmmm see I think maybe I got lucky! The curry was hot and spicy, not quite weird 🙂 And the hokkien mee was actually pretty tasty (despite the chicken!). Go Kiasu and let me know what you think.

  3. SG style char koay teow is supposed to be sweet… apparently. penang style always wins hands down. hehe.

  4. Grace Chan on July 31, 2009 at 2:28 pm said:


    Totally agree with you about fav Malaysian – mamak food – definitely have to be To’s and Mamak in Sydney! (i miss the assam laksa heaps!!!!!!)

  5. mc: Penang always win that competition 😉

    Grace: I know, I could live at Mamak forever and be happy. Maggi goreng and roti bom. YUM.

  6. now you need to do kiasu vs. Rasa Sayang – the restaurant favoured by Malaysian royalties overseas…

  7. What am i saying… not Rasa Sayang… Satay house!! My brain just had a major fart!

  8. Hehe the weird thing was, I knew that’s what you meant! Twilight zone. But YES I do. In fact imma go there in the next couple of weeks and bring a third contender into this battle 🙂

  9. Haha! Good post. Someone else did a comparison of two Straits restaurants, possible An American in London? I’ve been to both, Rasa Sayang twice and Kiasu once but ages ago, so a revisit is due soon, methinks…

  10. Sorry, had to just quickly say that the phrases on the walls in Kiasu are NOT Malay but Hokkien.

  11. Su-Lin: TRUE! *gasp* I was in such a rush to sing Kiasu’s praises I totally mucked that up. Oops. It is indeed in hokkien and man, my parents would totally be ashamed of me for stuffing that up.

    Helen: Kiasu is worth a revisit. I’m gonna hit Satay House for a revisit soon and see how that rates up 🙂

  12. I didn’t know Kiasu had re-opened.. I thought they shut down after the owner did a runner.
    Will have to say I’ve been to Rasa Sayang twice and was thoroughly disappointed both times. In fact I even wrote a scatching review on Bloomberg. Will have to go back to Kiasu soon. Also keen to try out Bonda Cafe and Bugis St Brasserie some time. As for Sydney, Mamak is great but for the best roti outside of South East Asia, Kammadhenu was awesome. In fact I heard they opened up a Neutral Bay outlet recently.

  13. Ming: Yes!! It re-opened! I didn’t realise it either until a fellow foodie pointed it out. Best thing ever. Rasa Sayang.. yeh I really think I got lucky.. but am game enough to go back and try again. Kammadhenu in Newtown is good but a little pricey I reckon. Mamak all the way 🙂

  14. Keep up the good work, another informative post.

  15. I’m not overly familar with prawn noodles so didn’t realise it should contain pork rib. I didn’t mind Rasa Sayang’s version but there were only 2 prawns and that made me sad.

  16. That is some inspirational stuff. Never knew that opinions could be this varied. Thanks for all the enthusiasm to offer such helpful information here.

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