Comfort Food: the Restaurants that Cure Homesickness

Ludovica Longo, Politics BA and Timothy Lim, Burmese and Development BA

“The pizza at 50 Kalò transported me directly back to Italy, faster and more comfortably than any Ryanair flight ever has.”

The soft dough and fresh Italian ingredients make Kalò’s pizza stand out (Credits: Ludovica Longo) 

50 Kalò 

7 Northumberland Ave, Westminster, London WC2N 5BY

I am sure all international students would agree when I say that it was short-sighted of me to spend the full three weeks of the Christmas break at home, surrounded by delicious food and loving relatives. Three weeks is just long enough to settle in and to make the return in London just a little bit harder. However, food being a big part of the post-holiday home-sickness, London’s huge number of Italian restaurants can serve as an excellent medicine, 50 kalò above all others.

This Neapolitan “pizzeria”, located just around the corner from Trafalgar Square, serves the softest of doughs, topped with the freshest Italian ingredients, making the waiting time of around 40 minutes (less than half of the time I had to wait in their location back in Naples) absolutely worth it. 

The colourfulness and the incredible variety of toppings make each pizza look more like a unique art-piece that I almost felt guilty eating. However, once I had the first bite, it was almost impossible to stop and began savouring each and every single slice with my eyes closed. 

Hearing mostly Italian conversations in the background and being served by an extremely friendly Italian staff transported me directly back to Italy, faster and more comfortably than any Ryanair flight ever has. 

SOAS Jawi class enjoying authentic Malay food at Tukdin (Credit: Timothy Lim) 

Tukdin 

41 Craven Road, Bayswater, London W2 3BX. Halal, of course. 

It’s a given truth that when you put Malaysians and Singaporeans in the same room, an argument about whose food is better will erupt. Break that composition down into Malays from both sides of the causeway, and suddenly claims of whose sambal is better will become personal. So when the time came to pick a restaurant for our Jawi class dinner, the stakes were very high indeed. Yet, when our Jawi class arrived at the restaurant and glanced into the window, only to find a packed room of tudung-covered mak ciks* glancing back, we knew we were in for a treat. 

Tukdin is located in Bayswater, the heart of Malaysian life in London, and centres around Malaysia Hall. Despite its name, Tukdin doesn’t serve ‘Malaysian classics’; restaurants claiming to serve Malaysian cuisine are a dime a dozen across London, many far closer to SOAS. No, Tukdin serves Malay classics, the same kind that you would see at your local Malay eatery that dots villages and cities across Malaysia. While Malaysian food has a reputation for being mercilessly spicy, Malay food tends to lean on the milder side, with a variety of sweet and sour flavours. After all, why would every meal be a Fear Factor challenge?  

What really made Tukdin stand out was when someone at the table ordered an Air Bandung soda (a rose syrup and condensed milk concoction with the added twist of cream soda), an order so niche half the table had never heard of it, the waitress didn’t even blink. If that doesn’t make you feel at home, I can’t think of anything else that will. 

*tudung: Malay term for the Islamic headscarf

*mak cik: Malay for the colloquial aunty; she definitely loves you, but her pursed lips are far deadlier than Miranda Priestley’s.

Post Author: SOAS Spirit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *