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“Very disappointing 'authentic' Malaysian”
Review of Restaurant Serai - CLOSED

Restaurant Serai
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $6 - $26
Cuisines: Asian, Indonesian, Malaysian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Large groups, Families with children
Dining options: Lunch, Dinner, Late Night, Buffet, Delivery, Highchairs Available, Reservations, Takeout, Waitstaff
Doha, Qatar
Level Contributor
344 reviews
254 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 180 helpful votes
“Very disappointing 'authentic' Malaysian”
Reviewed October 1, 2013

Certainly not 'authentic' enough by my standards and I have tasted better than what were served in Serai at other 'fusion' Malaysian restaurants in Europe. I was surprised that Serai gets good to excellent review. I guess most of the reviewers are local 'Europeans' who have never tasted the real Malay food before; to these reviewers the food tasted exotic perhaps. Coming from Bruneian-Malaysian background, my tastebuds are accustomed to Malay, Indian and South-east Asian Chinese cuisine and food certainly plays a major role in my upbringing as most of other South-east Asian would agree; we socialise around food and restaurants as most Europeans socialise around drinks and pub culture.

Anyway, I found Serai on Tripadvisor and since it has such a good review and we are in the area visiting, I was intrigued and I thought we would give it a try. One look at the menu, the varieties of food served here are not complicated to prepare honestly. Frankly speaking, I could have cooked all that are listed in the menu myself.

Service, atmosphere and ambience of the restaurant cannot be faulted. It was clean, functional, art works on display are OK (which by the way are for sale) and the waitress was somewhat friendly. I am basing my review purely on the taste of the food and nothing else.

Teh tarek tasted like tepid water. The type of tea used for making teh tarek was not of the right one. They should have used tea dusts and this would give the teh tarek the dark orange colour and strong distinctive taste of teh tarek. The starter plate: chicken satay was not marinated with the spices. I didn't taste any ketumbar, jintan, lengkuas, serai on the meat. The satay sauce was watery, no peanut pieces (they were finely blended) and taste was on the extra sweet side; besides whose bright idea to put cucumber and onion into the glass jar and pour the sauce on them anyway? The roti canai I suspected is from the packet and tasted like cardboard. The dal sauce I won't bother commenting on. The karipap tasted a bit off (inti basi).

For main courses, we ordered nasi goreng kampung and mee kari. I always ordered these to test whether the restaurant is serving authentic food or otherwise. Unfortunately, it's EPIC fail for Serai. Nasi goreng kampung was clumpy and a bit on the soggy side. Tak berderai langsung. Besides who put curry powder in nasi goreng kampong anyway. The key ingredients were missing in the dish, ikan bilis (anchovies) and belacan (shrimp paste). It wasn't spicy at all as nasi goreng kampung supposed to be spicy. I mean my grandmother cooked better than that. Mee kari was tasteless, no curry taste, no asam taste....all I can taste was coconut milk and the soup was again watery. Since when do you put salad in mee kari? Major disappointment! We were served 'sambal' and cut chillies in soya sauce condiments. My first thought great salvation to the lacklustre tasting food. The 'sambal' was not sambal at all, more like chilli paste sauce, no bawang, no belacan, no udang kering. My husband likes chillies and took 2 spoonful of the chillies in soya sauce onto his nasi goreng kampung and walloped one spoon straight with the rice. He had a great shock as the chillies were so spicy. He ended up with hiccups throughout the dinner. They served habanero cut chillies instead of normal chillies or bird eyes chillies. I think the intention was to emulate the cili padi taste. What a major mistake! Habanero chillies don't go well with South-east Asian food at all. What was the chef thinking? Somehow I didn't think he is Malaysian but I overheard him talking to the owner in Malay. So, I think he is not a real chef but just merely a cook.

Presentation of the food was there but unfortunately taste certainly was left out of the picture.

Since we dined on Monday, there was 20% discount on the total bill. That managed to somewhat dampen my disappointment but not much. We finished most of the food (apart from nasi goring and mee kari) as I don't believe the food should go to waste since I paid for them. The food definitely wasn't great but edible (only just!). When will I ever learn never to dine in an 'Asian' restaurant claiming to be authentic in Europe, as it always turn out to be non authentic but somewhat fusion. Will I ever visit the restaurant again, the answer is definitely a No. Will I ever recommend it to my friends and family members, the answer is No unless they are really desperate in eating 'authentic' Malaysian food. Maybe the restaurant should concentrate in being an art gallery than a café serving 'authentic' Malaysian food.

  • Visited September 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
8 Thank Naiza A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Juliah R, Inhaber at Restaurant Serai, responded to this review, October 2, 2013
Dear Naiza,

thank you for visiting Serai and thank you for taking your precious time to give us a review. I am really sorry to hear your dissappointment about the food or Serai in general.

For your information, we are using Teh Boh tea dust which i imported directly from Malaysia for our Teh Tarik. It seemed you have asked for Teh tarik with less sweetness... so we had to reduce the amount of the sweetened condensed milk which we normally use for our teh tarik, which probably made it taste like Tepid water according to you.

My waitress was very friendly, attentive and alert enough to notice that you were somehow not too happy with your food, that she went to your table and asked right away if something the matter with the food, infact she did it more than once. Unfortunately there was no complaint there from your side. We would be more than happy to make you a new plate if you had told us that the Mee Kari or the Nasi Goreng was not spicy enough for you. Most of our guests will inform us how they want to have their food spicy or not spicy when they make their order. Just like when you order a steak...you have to tell in advanced how you like to have your steak raw, medium or done, so that the cook knows what to do.

I love spicy and hot food myself but i will never put 2 spoonfull of chilis directly on my food without knowing how hot the chilis are. My waitress did give you a warning about the chilis when she handed to you the little bowls. We did notice that your husband was having a hiccups because the chilis was too hot for him and we came to immediate rescue by offering him our homemade Mango lassi... on the house! For those who like it hot, it doesn't matter if it chili padi/birds eye chilis, thai chilis or habaneros. If habaneros are available and common in Malaysia, i bet 100% that they will make sambal out of them and use them just like the chili padi.

Btw our cook is a sous chef from Malaysia and not just merely a cook and he knows exactly what he is doing.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

94 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    61
    17
    9
    3
    4
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Prague, Czech Republic
1 review
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“great Malaysian food and service”
Reviewed September 23, 2013

High-quality tasty home-made Malaysian cuisine and very friendly staff/owner. Quite hard to get in Europe - don't mess it with Chinese!

  • Visited September 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Tomas Z
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Juliah R, Inhaber at Restaurant Serai, responded to this review, September 24, 2013
Dear Tomas,

thank you very much for dining in at Serai. I am glad you have enjoyed the food. Our appreciation to you for taking time to give Serai a positive review, děkujeme...

terima kasih..thank you! Hope to see you again in the future.

greetings fr heidelberg,
juliah
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Excellence”
Reviewed August 4, 2013 via mobile

Great place to go if you are indeed looking for some authentic malaysian cuisine in Deutschland. Excellent taste , good service what more to ask for for when you are looking fir some good food all around

  • Visited August 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Maniesegaran
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Juliah R, Inhaber at Restaurant Serai, responded to this review, September 24, 2013
Dear Maniesegaran,

thank you very much for visiting Serai and for the kind words. Hope to see you again soon.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Milton Keynes, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
12 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Great Food”
Reviewed July 21, 2013

Very good Malaysian Cuisine in Heidelberg. I would highly recommend this place for a little taste of Malaysia. Good size portions and friendly owner.

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank Mandarinanglo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
65 reviews
55 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
“Thank you for a wonderful party!”
Reviewed July 9, 2013

I've visited Serai restaurant. several times over the past 1+ year and always look forward to getting a special treat here. And indeed we were given a lovely treat when we celebrated a very wonderful party (16 pp) in the private room recently. Top scores and a BIG round of hearty applause go to the chef and Juliah for the absolutely authentic buffett spread of freshly prepared curry puffs, spring rolls, mee goreng, sambal prawns, beef rendang and chicken curry. I can't say which dish I liked best - all the sauces were perfectly simmered to a heavenly combination of texture, taste and spiciness. I've not tasted better Malaysian food in Europe! The delicious home-made mango salad dressing deserves a special mention as well :) We also loved the mango lassi (mango joghurt drink) and the teh tarik (hot sweet tea with milk), and the rounds of non-alchoholic cocktails ;) The buffet tables were lovingly decorated with beautiful batik-print table cloth and the party room exulted a nice warm ambience with the tasteful interior decor and lighting, just as in the main room of the restaurant as well. A charmingly presented dessert duet of chilli mud cake and coconut cream topped with mango sauce rounded off a perfect evening among friends.

  • Visited July 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
4 Thank alphacent
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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