Sugared & Spiced

pâtissière in paris, now shanghai

[Shanghai] Cafe Sambal

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Cafe Sambal

Add: Jiashan Market, 37A, Lane 550 Shanxi Nan Lu, near Shaoxing Lu / 陕西南路550弄37号, 近绍兴路
Tel: 3368 9529
Hours: 12pm-12am
Price: 150~200 RMB/person
Visited: Sep 2011

Please note that this is an arranged tasting.

Lofted ceiling, exposed concrete, wooden furnitures, warm lighting. Authentic Malaysian cuisine with a modern touch? I was ready to be inspired.

At Cafe Sambal, always start with a minty Mojito (55 RMB) – highly recommended especially on a day like this when the air is thick as jam.

For a light start, Fresh Mango Rolls (38 RMB) with lemon sauce was an ideal choice.

Chicken Satay (60 RMB) was not instantly recognizable. Filets of grilled chicken, loaded with Malay peanut sauce, were held together vertically by toothpicks rather than the traditional long skewers. The reason behind this alternative presentation? Better cuts of meat (very tender and succulent indeed) that can be devoured elegantly in one bite.

Then there were Samosas (30 RMB), little triangles of curried potato, carrot, and peas, deep-fried to a perfect crisp. Excellent.

Instead of tom yam kung, I opted for a bowl of Oxtail Soup (40 RMB) as recommended by a friend who frequents Cafe Sambal. Soothing, flavorful, glided right down.

Then came the vibrantly colored Seafood Curry (220 RMB), a medley of prawns, fish, squid, pineapples, bell peppers, and okras in an intensely flavored red curry. Bring me another bowl of jasmine rice!

Fans of beef tendons will appreciate Cafe Sambal’s Beef Rendang (78 RMB), a traditional Malay beef curry in thick sauce spiced with lemongrass, galangal, ginger, turmeric and chilies. Instead of tougher cuts of beef, Cafe Sambal uses the parts with gelatinous beef tendons and braises them to a tender, melting texture.

The crowd pleaser of the night, surprisingly, was a vegetable dish. Everyone loved the Fried 4-Sided Beans with Cashew Nut Sauce (60 RMB) for their crunchy texture and the nutty garlicky flavor. This is a house specialty not to be missed.

I was already stuffed beyond capacity by the time we reached Fried Honey Chicken Malay Style (68 RMB) so I couldn’t fully enjoy it…will have to order it again next time when there’s more stomach space.

And of course there’s always room for desserts (note the plural form). I’m a huge fan of Bubur Cha Cha (30 RMB), a fragrant coconut milk dessert with taro, sweet potato, and tapioca pearls, and the rendition at Cafe Sambal did not disappoint. We also tried Kiuh Dadar, a roll of shredded coconut stewed in palm sugar, but as I’m not a fan of coconut shreds, I could’ve done without this part. Instead, I’d like to (on my next visit) try Sago Gula Melaka, tapioca with palm sugar topped with cold coconut milk – I already know I’ll like this from the sound of it.

Dinner at Cafe Sambal was nothing short of pleasant. Will be back to try their Malaysian brunch – a free-flow of roti, dalca curry, laksa, and the likes – a fun alternative to the typical poached eggs and co.

Cafe Sambal also has a spacious upstairs lounge and attached outdoor patio, a perfect space for events. Just FYI. 

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Written by sugarednspiced

September 1st, 2011 at 9:14 pm