East London just landed a new modern Malaysian restaurant & wine bar called Mambow.
And this is Mambow number four.
Mambow number one opened as a restaurant on Commercial Street back at the start of 2020, which wasn’t exactly ideal timings-wise. So, sadly forced to shut by the fickle hand of fate, it then nimbly pivoted into a roaringly successful meal-kit concept (Mambow number 2), before turning into a stall in Peckham (Mambow number three), and now once again clawing its way back to brick-and-mortar restaurant status.
Life is, indeed, a rollercoaster.
It comes to us from chef Abby Lee who, apart from an apparently unending well of grit & determination, also has a) a diploma from fancy French culinary college Le Cordon Bleu, b) experience cooking in a Michelin Star kitchen in Italy, and c) a childhood spent in her family’s bakery in Malaysia. All three of which have colluded to create a chef with both the skillset & heritage to deliver an impressive & remarkably distinct menu.
Step inside this culinary cubby-hole, and you’ll immediately be smacked in the nostrils by the mélange of beautiful spices and flavors being cooked up at the open kitchen a couple of yards away. The sleeve of a space is a bit of a Tetris game of space management, with seating running the length of the space alongside the kitchen, and high seats propped up by the window. It’s simple, and it’s functional, but there are candles on every table and pops of neon that lend it all a little warmth and colour.
The menu is a wonderful blend of Malaysian flavours, with sharing dishes that start with the likes of the the Lor Bak, which sees a five spice pork & prawn roll wrapped in a light, crispy bean skin, off-set by a sweet, sticky sauce for dipping. The larger goods include a black pepper chicken dish which is actually a family recipe from Perak (where Abbey grew up); a tamarind skate wing with torched ginger flower; and an absolutely beautiful pineapple curry with crispy garlic chive dumplings.
The puddings are possibly the best bit though, with inventive dishes like pandan crepes with coconut, or caramelised cassava cake with toasted jasmine ice cream. It’s a thoroughly satisfying mixture of novelty and comfort in one.
The final piece of the puzzle is an ever-changing low-intervention vino list (with plenty of natural wines), and a short collection of cocktails helping to ease it all down. Hopefully, after the success of this we’ll get to see another Mambow…
…maybe even Mambow number five?
NOTE: Mambow is open now, Wednesday to Sunday. You can find out more and make a booking right here.
Mambow | 78 Lower Clapton Rd, Lower Clapton, London E5 0RN
Want to meet the neighbours? They’re all in our thoroughly comprehensive guide to the best restaurants in East London…