The vibe: A new authentic South East Asian restaurant specialising in street food dishes from Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong. Think: creamy curries, crunchy stir fries and oodles of noodles.
What’s cool: A lot of attention has been paid to the décor in Ekachai, which gives the restaurant an authentic feel and transports diners from South London to South East Asia. For example, domed light fittings are actually fishing baskets imported from Asia, and bamboo sticks feature in the wall panels and ceilings, while multi-coloured wooden tables and chairs are dotted throughout the restaurant.
“Every day when I come to work, I’m reminded of my home town,” says restaurant manager Eddy Lo, who comes from Malaysia. “The lampshades in the ceiling are what they use back home to catch fish.” There’s also an open plan kitchen, so you can see the chefs at work.
What’s great is the prompt service and the fact that Ekachai offers good value for money.
What’s not cool: the location. Ekachai is located next to the Cineworld cinema within the upper concourse of the Southside Shopping Centre, which makes it feel like a more casual dining experience than it has the potential to be.
The presentation of the dishes is very simple, and most of the food is served on basic plastic-like white plates and bowls, so if it’s extravagance you’re after, this might not be for you.
The food: “The most popular starter dishes are the pork dumplings and the soft shell crab. For mains, customer favourites include the Seafood Curry Laksa, which is a giant portion served in a huge bowl, and also my personal favourite. The Beef Hor Fun, which comes with noodles is just as popular,” says Eddy.
For starters we enjoyed the Thai fish cakes, which come with a sweet dip. We also had the vegetable dumplings, although they were quite bland in comparison.
For mains we went for the Malaysian chicken Kapitan curry, which was very flavourful, and the chicken cashew stir fry, which came with more veggies. We liked that we could choose between jasmine, coconut or egg-fried rice to accompany the main dish.
The dessert menu is very small, but it features a Malaysian pancake (“roti kanai”), which is like a meal in itself. It’s sweet, flaky and pastry-like, and it’s served with ice cream and fruit – order one to share!
Find it: the Wandsworth branch of Ekachai is situated within the Southside Shopping Mall, next to the Cineworld. It has recently opened and is busiest on Friday evenings and all day Saturday and Sunday. The chain has two other locations in London – Liverpool Street, and a concession in Selfridges London.
Final thoughts: a pleasant dining experience, but the location is probably only ideal for cinema goers and shoppers.