Malaysian-Chinese cuisine in Chelsea is not something you come across very often. The elegant Zheng restaurant on Sydney street is owned by Executive Chef Izlinda Baharom and her husband General Manager Adam Abdullah. Their original Zheng in Oxford garnered rave reviews, and it seems like their Chelsea outpost has become a staple for those seeking traditional Malaysian food in the capital.
We enter the converted townhouse near South Kensington station and are greeted by a lively yet sophisticated dining room. The menu tells the story of Admiral Zheng He, a Chinese explorer during the early Ming dynasty who put the Malacca Empire (or modern day Malaysia) on the map.
Malaysia is a country that embraces three main ethnic communities: the Malays, the Chinese, and the Indians. Each have brought unique flavours and vibrant ingredients that have contributed to Malaysia’s eclectic cuisine. With an offering that includes a selection of dim sum options, popular Malaysian street food, and traditional Southeast Asian favourites, we decide to put our trust in Zheng’s chef and leave our meal in her hands.
The cocktail menu features a list of drinks with Asian twists. I decide on the chili martini with vodka and pineapple. There’s serious heat from the spices around the glass’ rim, but I find it both delicious and different. We begin our meal with the Zheng Starter Platter which includes satay chicken skewers, sesame prawns on toast, salt & pepper squid, vegetarian spring rolls, and a delightfully sweet seaweed salad. Every item packed a punch and hit all points on the palate. Our mains included beef with aubergine, green beans with dried chilies and minced chicken, and the standout dish, crispy cereal king prawns. Our server warned us that the prawns were addictive, and we couldn’t agree more! The succulent king prawns were battered in a mix of chili, curry leaves and oats providing great textural and flavour contrasts that left us wanting more.
Our meal ended with desserts that highlighted traditional Southeast Asian ingredients like the pandan leaves used in the kuih ketayap pancakes with ice cream and the tapioca pearls and palm sugar syrup that was mixed with evaporated milk for the sagu Melaka.
If you’re looking for a dinner destination that artfully combines the unique flavours and ingredients of Malaysia in a sophisticated yet welcoming setting, Zheng Chelsea offers an explosion of flavours right in the heart of West London.