Sunday, 5 May 2013

Uncle Lim's Kitchen

Oh look, an Asian restaurant whose name has nothing to do with the oriental nickname of table tennis, a bloody dragon, golden-something, and doesn't claim to be some royal moon legend king of Sichuan and dumpling village.

Me? A problem with unoriginal, stereotypical Chinese restaurant names? No...

I was, however, comforted by the fact that this Malaysian eating place had a name close to home: Uncle Lim's. In Southeast Asia, most particularly in Singapore and Malaysia, middle-aged to elderly men can be addressed as 'uncle', even if they are not a sibling of your parent. You can approach a 60-something year old man for $1 ice cream and greet him as 'uncle'.

When you go into a place with a name like 'Golden Dragon', you expect food which tastes unauthentic and mediocre, just like its unoriginal name. (Having said that, I've never eaten at Golden Dragon, so I can't judge just yet, but I'm already turned off anyway.) When you go to a Malaysian canteen-style eating place called 'Uncle Lim's', you are like, hey, I feel like I know this Uncle Lim guy already, and I'm going to see a balding, aproned Chinese man take my order with a smile and a familiar slang.

Maybe my expectations were a little high, as I had my order taken by one of two caucasian ladies who were standing behind the steaming trays of various meat and vegetable dishes, which were choices for meal deals which come with steamed rice or noodles.

I shared a plate of Hainanese Chicken Rice (£5) with a friend, as the portions are said to be huge, and they were indeed. The dish was served with steamed chicken, cucumbers, tomatoes, and  fragrant rice cooked with chicken broth. For chicken rice so far from home, they really have managed to get the correct taste of both the rice and the tender chicken, plus the black sauce drizzled on top. Five more gold stars for the extra large portion as well. The only thing I was sceptical about was the fact that the skin on the chicken was yellow – quite a scary yellow. However, I did some research, and it appears that yellow-skinned chicken is corn-fed, and therefore extra tasty.

I'm definitely going to return to Uncle Lim's one day, to try their famed Char Kway Teow, (stir-fried, flat and broad rice noodles) and the mixed rice/noodle dishes. It is a good fix for a hometown-food-craving, with great value and a decent variety.

Uncle Lim's Kitchen (Croydon)
The Whitgift Centre (top floor)
Wellesley Rd
Greater London
020 8688 6378

Uncle Lim's Kitchen on Urbanspoon
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