[Shanghai] Cafe Sambal
– Please note this was an invited tasting –
Cafe Sambal, also with branches in Beijing and Tianjin, serves Malaysian food with a modern twist. I say modern because owner Cho, a native Malaysian, focuses on serving tasty Malaysian food with his own interpretations and habits. And tasty it was.
Cafe Sambal occupies a spacious two floors inside Jiashan Market. The first floor is mainly for dining and the second floor is well-suited for drinks with additional seating outside on the terrace (which will be nice when the weather warms up). There is also a private room (picture below) available for events or large dinner parties.
Teh tarik – pulled tea (RMB¥25) black tea with condensed milk
Teh tarik (“la-cha” or 拉茶 in Chinese) means pulled tea, which gets its name from the tea literally being pulled back and forth between two containers. That’s also where the bubbles come from. Kind of like a Malaysian milk tea.
Chicken satay (RMB¥60) with traditional Malaysian peanut satay sauce; beef option also available for same price
The most tenderlicious pieces of chicken meat. This was really different from many other chicken satays I have had, which were more often than not dry white meat. Short toothpicks instead of long skewer sticks are used for easier access. Again, modern twist for the better.
Fresh mango rolls (RMB¥40) mango, lettuce and herbs wrapped in Vietnamese rice paper, served with fresh lemon sauce
Upon hearing there would be mango rolls at Cafe Sambal, one of my companions immediately accepted my dinner invitation and he was not disappointed that he did. Fresh mangos played up by bitter herbs.
Butter prawn (RMB¥20 per piece, 4 pieces minimum order) fresh prawns stir-fried with butter floss, butter breadcrumbs and curry leaves
I don’t usually eat shrimp unless it is the sweet or drunken raw kind or the little Shanghai style sauteed ones. But the seasoning and the breadcrumbs were especially good and made this shrimp dish appealing. The shrimps were also pre-peeled for easy eating.
Kapitan curry chicken (RMB¥68) nyonya curry chicken – medium spicy
The curry sauce ingredients here are sourced from Malaysia and prepared at the restaurant. This juicy chicken in a thick and slightly spicy curry sauce is perfect with white rice.
Beef rendang (RMB¥80) traditional Malay beef curry in thick sauce – spicy
Beef curry cooked for four hours with sauce imported from Malaysia and prepared at the restaurant just like the chicken curry. While the beef curry is a more popular dish here, I personally prefer the tamer and less spicy chicken curry.
Fried 4-sided beans with cashew nut sauce (RMB¥60)
I had never seen or eaten these beans before. Thick and crunchy texture in a nutty sauce. Quite liked.
Bubur caca (RMB¥30) yam and sweet potato cooked in warm coconut milk
Coconut milk and sweet potatos–I am sold. Downed this sweet deliciousness wishing for a second bowl. Super liked!
Kuih dadar (RMB¥30) dessert rolls with fillings of shredded coconut stewed in palm sugar
Very sweet coconut filling wrapped in a pandan crepe. Ate it in one bite.
After dinner, we headed upstairs in a food coma daze for mojitos and lounged around the sofa area. A pleasant ending to our night. I also recommend opening your night with these mojitos.