Selesa — Kensington, London
A night out with old uni friends brought us to Selesa in Kensington. Selesa is located in Park City Grand Plaza hotel which is on a very residential street away from the hustle and bustle of Kensington. There is no other shop or restaurant located there which was slightly strange, but on the plus side it means there are lots of parking spaces!
Twelve of us met up on a Saturday night and were given a private-ish dining area which accommodated us quite well — let’s just say it was very cosy. Nearly everybody ordered a different dish as the menu is really varied and has a good range of meat, fish and seafood options. On to the food…
Best Dish: Beef with Black Bean Sauce. Without a doubt this was the tastiest and safest option. Malay food has amazingly strong flavours, sometimes not to everyone’s taste but this was beautifully balanced with small tender beef pieces in a sauce.
Recommend: Laksa. Hot and spicy with a kick of spice it’s a lovely warming dish with prawns, boiled eggs, tofu and chicken. Although it would have been nicer without the chicken. Be warned, it’s huge so can be shared, however it’s not easy to share a big bowl of noodle soup as I discovered. I’d also recommend the Nasi Lemak. Traditionally it’s cooked in a banana leaf but here was on a large plate of delicious rice (I’m not a rice person but the rice here is fantastic), a carrot and cucumber pickle, a prawn curry, roasted peanut thing (think bombay mix), a boiled egg and a piece of fried chicken. I wish I could have finished it as everything was super tasty but the plate was HUGE. The only thing was the prawns still had their shell on and they were in a sauce. Very difficult to peel and eat and took the enjoyment out of it.
Disappointing: Beef Rendang. I’ve decided I just don’t like this dish anywhere. It’s tough and chewy beef curry cooked in coconut milk, just too meaty and boring.
Avoid: Hainanese Chicken. never order anything at a restaurant that is poached, unless it’s an egg. Or a pear. This dish had rice, soup, salad along with very bland poached chicken. It seemed less calorific then the other dishes but a definite no no.
Drinks: There is no alcohol on the menu but is available from a separate bar in the hotel. There’s a small selection of mocktails as well as the usual soft drinks, sadly no fresh juices only carton which was disappointing as Malaysians drink awesome fresh juices. I ordered the lychee mocktail which I kid you not seemed like a tin of lychees with crushed ice on it.
Service: The waitresses were really friendly and tried to explain the dishes to us as best they could. The service was really slow considering it wasn’t busy in the restaurant.
We had a great time because of the company and the unusual food made a great talking point with everyone handing their plate down for others to have a taste. It’s an intimate and quiet restaurant, so if you’re looking for a happening kind of place, this is not it. However if you want authentic Malaysian food, Selesa is for you.
Essential Info: The restaurant use no alcohol or pork in their kitchen. A separate bar in the hotel is available for alcoholic drinks.
Halal Status: All meat halal as stated on the menu.
Address: 18-30 Lexham Gardens, London W8 5JE
Parking: Permit holder only boxes available after 6.30pm Mon-Fri and Saturday after 1.30pm.
Cost: ££. The total came to £330 for 12 of us, that’s just over £25 per person including drinks and service.