For anyone on the hunt for authentic, flavour-filled Malaysian food in London, you can now relaksa…
…and re-laksa, at Sambal Shiok on North London’s Holloway Road.
It comes to you courtesy of Malaysian-born owner and chef Mandy Lin. Once a lawyer, Lin traded in the long hours and late nights for… well, more long hours and late nights, except this time doing what she loved ie. cheffing up nostalgic Malaysian dishes, inspired from her childhood in Kuala Lumpur.
Sambal Shiok started out life as a street food stall, before progressing into a a pop-up restaurant. Then, due to on-going overwhelming demand, Lin decided to go permanent. She signed the lease on a space in Highbury, filled it with relaxed, café-style furniture, and painted it the Malaysian flag’s primary red and blue. The kitchen’s open, and the best seats in the house are the handful of stools pulled up to the tiny dining counter overlooking it all.
For the most part you’ll see them cooking up big, hearty bowls of Laksa (spicy noodle soup). A staple in Malaysian cuisine, there’s really no end to the types of laksa one can make. However here Lin draws from the Peranakan curry laksa and the Assam laksa, from the north; which you can then top with a variety of different vegetables, poached chicken, or king prawns. They also do a vegan laksa which Yin has carefully perfected to include none of the shrimp and yet all of the umami flavour.
Beyond laksa they also offer a couple of smaller snacks like Malaysian fried chicken with peanut sauce; vegetable fritters; or sambal greens. Otherwise, if you’re after a different main entirely, there’s a number of rice dishes, influenced by the Chinese Fuzhou and Iban tribal communities in Sarawak, Borneo – like their white chicken curry, made with lemongrass and coconut milk, and served with sweet cucumber and red onion pickles.
Taking care of the drinks are a pair of big-hitters: top sommelier Zeren Wilson has picked out three wines to perfectly complement the laksas, while Mr. Lyan (of Lyaness fame) has put together a trio of cocktails including a Pandan Americano.
NOTE: Sambal Shiok is open Tues 5-9pm, Wed-Thur 12-9pm and Fri-Sat 12-10pm. For more information, or to book, visit their website here.
Sambal Shiok | 171 Holloway Road, London, N7 8LX
Seeing as you’re in the area… why not check out our guide to the best restaurants in Islington