Sambal Shiok Pop-up
Although I like trying out new things, I’m the kind of person who will find something they like and fixate on it until they get bored of it. Examples being playing the same two songs for three weeks running, doing the same workout for an entire 30 days, or even watching the same movie a few times in a week; all until I’ve overdone it and will probably not look back again. A terrible trait, I know.
Unfortunately, the same applies to food. Whilst I went through my phase of only wanting to eat seekh kebabs and rotis, I’ve now moved my attention to Malaysian food and can’t get enough of rendang. So it only seemed convenient after my last Malaysian post, that I would tell you guys about this little pop-up being run by Sambal Shiok at the moment.
Sambal Shiok, usually a street-food stall, have taken over The Sun & 13 Canton pub for a three month residency, where they serve up a good variety of Malaysian staples that will leave you wanting to come back for more. Of course, I dragged BW along on it’s first night to try out what they have to offer.
Excuse the photos, it was dark in there!
Little, juicy chicken nuggets that had been deep-fried to a nice crisp, and sat on a bed of this creamy, nutty peanut sauce. The chicken was flavourful and aromatic, with the peanut sauce adding a decadent creaminess to finish it off.
Chicken potstickers that had been topped with coriander and Haianese chilli sauce. A generous portion, but I wish it had been served with some dipping sauce as it became a little dry after a while.
This was my first time having a Malaysian classic, Nasi Lemak, and I wondered why I hadn’t ordered it before! There is a little bit of everything: coconut rice, peanuts, cucumber, anchovies, sambal, and your choice of chicken/beef/lentils. Since we had the fried chicken for starters, we decided to go for the beef rendang with the nasi lemak, and boy, was I glad we did!
The rendang was a sultry, deep, dark brown, and had been topped off with coriander. It was delicious; the shredded beef had been cooked for six hours to allow the meat to absorb all the flavours, especially from the 11 spices used (I’m thinking along the lines of lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves etc.). The heat was a little undercover as we didn’t mix much of the spicy sambal chilli in, but was a gradual process until you had to reach for the some of the cucumber slices to cool down.
The egg was soft-boiled with a bright orange yolk, the peanuts were crunchy to give a little texture, and the fried anchovies cut through the meatiness of the rendang. It was a good rendang, with only the beef being a little tough stopping it from being excellent.
Now this was a fiery dish. We had opted for the chicken laksa, however in hindsight, a mix of the prawn and chicken would have been better. Anyways, a big bowl of hugs came with noodles, tofu puffs, chicken pieces, lemongrass, and green beans, and had been topped with coriander.
Well, it wasn’t a bowl of hugs for long because it packed a serious spicy punch that was tolerable, but had you reaching for some nearby tissues. The kari laksa was, however, deliciously creamy, rich, and flavourful, with the bouncy vermicelli noodles and the squidgy fried tofu puffs that had absorbed the spicy broth. There was a generous amount of chicken in there, which could have had some more flavour, and the shrimp taste was quite obvious, but overall, this was a really good bowl of laksa.
The total came to £37 for two, without drinks and service, so £18.50 each. A sensible total considering the quality and quantity of the food; we had left the pop-up feeling satisfyingly full. If you’re a little hesitant with spicy food, I suggest sticking to the nasi lemak, but persuade your dinner partner to get the kari laksa so you can have a little taste, whilst watching them gulp down their water. If you’re a true braveheart or even just suffering from a cold, opt for the kari laksa with both the prawns and chicken.
I really liked the concept of a pop-up restaurant, plus Sambal Shiok introduced me to authentic and mouth-watering Malaysian food. Both the nasi lemak and the ayam goreng were my favourites of the evening, especially the peanut dipping sauce, and I would love to revisit to try out their other offerings. If you are planning to go, they are open for both lunch and dinner, however they only take bookings for lunch. Walk-ins for dinner are completely fine and you probably won’t have to wait for long.
If you’re unable to make it for their pop-up, do head down to their street-food stall on Rupert Street where they serve chicken satay and beef rendang burgers!
Address: 21 Gt Pulteney St, Soho London
Nearest Station: Tottenham Court Road