One of the more vivid memories I have of my time in Malaysia in 2011 was a lunch prepared by my friend's aunty. In preparation for our 23 hour train from Penang to Bangkok, curried prawns in their shells were packed into plastic tubs along with rice, a boiled egg and some vegetables. Hot at 7am when we set off, it preyed on my mind that the rice was cooling, sitting in the Malaysian warmth for a few hours before it would be eaten. Some would call that dangerous - see bacillus cereus - but no one else seemed fussed. I threw caution to the wind and, some hours later, wolfed down my incredibly delicious lunch. No doom befell me.
I bring this rather gnarly story up as the food at Malaysia Deli, a new place in Crofton Park, reminded me much of the lunchbox Aunty packed up for me in its composition. For only a fiver, you get a box of rice with a meat or fish, some vegetables and whichever sauce you choose. I uhm'd and aah'd over each one, asking the nice lady behind the counter which was which while she patiently explained the choices. I finally settled on salmon with sambal sauce; when asked if I wanted it heated up, I elected not to. Hot rice was layered into the box, two crisp salmon pieces next and that fiery sauce. On the cycle home, the hot rice heated up everything else in there, making my lunch perfectly warmed and ready to eat.
It doesn't look like much (I went over a few speed bumps...) but it was lovely - tender salmon, crunchy beans and perfectly cooked rice. But HOLY MOTHER that sambal. I wish they'd sell it as a jarred sauce. Sweet and spicy, I started off feeling a tingle of heat; by the end of my lunch I was sucking air through my teeth while my housemate laughed at me. Worth it, and I'd do it again. Though I might try the percik next time - described as a mild, sweet, tangy coconut sauce.
Cute and colourful inside, they sell ingredients as well as meals. They have a few tables and open 12pm - 8pm Tuesday - Saturday, 12pm - 6pm on Sundays; I'm looking forward to revisiting, especially for the nasi ulam, a dish I haven't come across before.
338 Brockley Road, London SE4 2BT