Satay in Brixton: a perfect mixture




Rating: 7/10

Address: 447 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton London, SW9 8LP

Tube: Brixton (Victoria)

Hours: Mon-Fri 12:00–23:00 (1:00 Fri);
Sat 13:00-1:00; Sun 17:00-23:00

Food: £20; Cocktails: £6.95-8.50

Official Website

By Lei He

It’s rare that Asian restaurants don’t boast about their ‘authenticity’. This is to cater for Londoners who want to distinguish one kind of food from another. However, this is not the style of Satay Cocktail Bar& Restaurant: they are not ashamed to admit that their food is not authentic Asian, but rather mixed with the taste of Londoners.

“I don’t think we have any distinguishing feature...Maybe the only one is that we are 17 years old, and we are the first one in Brixton to have both a bar and restaurant,” said Daniel Lawrence and his colleagues, bartenders and waiters of Satay. These kind guys didn’t want to cheat us by over-promotion, but they failed to realise, that no unique feature is Satay’s unique feature as an Asian restaurant – the mix.

Something a bit stronger…

Satay mixed bar and restaurant opened in Brixton, South London, 17 years ago. One of their flagship products are various, eternally popular cocktails. About five different things are mixed into each cocktail, so it’s easier to get drunk.

More and more customers are becoming addicted to cocktails. Is this because they prefer complicated tastes, or because being drunk gives them an excuse to lead a gay and wild lifestyle?

A huge mixture

The food provides a huge mixture of cuisines: Indonesian, Malay, Thai, Japanese, Singapore and Chinese cuisine are all provided in Satay. But none of them is authentic anymore.

“Authentic Indonesian and Thai foods are extremely spicy, too spicy for Britons to endure,” said Sinteck Lee, who has been working at Satay for nine years.

A lack of authenticity?

More importantly, transportation means essential ingredients of Southeastern Asian food such as curry leaf, lemon leaf and lemon grass must be frozen before being cooked. This removes the essential aromas of the ingredients, and means the dishes can no longer be considered truly authentic.

But the restaurant’s mixture is facing some challenges at the moment. Originally, Satay had an Indonesian boss, Indonesian managers and Indonesian chefs; now because of visa issues, fewer and fewer Southeast Asians are able to stay in the UK. Most of the vacancies have been filled by locals who learnt how to cook in this restaurant, but can hardly be expected to understand what the foundation of their mixture—Asian dishes—should be like.