Sambal Cover

Sambal – Malaysian in Action

If the title didn’t give it away, Sambal’s a Malaysian (with a touch of Chinese) restaurant that’s located quite far from where I live. 26km away, in fact. Awfully far a place to go just to have a meal, isn’t it?

Still, no matter how far I travel, when it comes down to it – sitting down, ordering food, then seeing a plethora of colours, textures and aromas being plated in front of you…any thoughts of how much petrol one burns to get here goes away.

Sambal more commonly refers to chilli jam, a hallmark of may spicy Asian cuisines, especially Malaysian. I’m in love with that stuff, I can’t imagine Sambal to lead me astray.

Date Last Visited: 5/5/2012
Address: 285 Lane Cove Rd Shop 7 Macquarie Park, NSW
Recommended Dish(es): KL Hokkien Mee

So why did I drive so far for a lunch? A birthday – ah, of course that had to be it. Indeed I would drive far to make birthdays, thank goodness for the invention of the car!

As this is one of those rare times when I was eating with a group, I was able to sample more dishes than I would usually be able to order – bonus!

Hainan Chicken Rice Half Served boneless chicken steamed to perfection served with rice cooked in aromatic chicken stock
Hainan  Chicken  Rice
Half Served boneless chicken steamed to perfection served with rice cooked in aromatic chicken stock – $20.8

Definitely not a Malaysian dish, the Hainan Chicken starts us off on a Chinese front. I don’t actually eat Hainan chicken often, mainly because parents don’t cook it that way, and it’s more of a cheap eat/quick bite/food court option. That said, the simple dishes are always the ones capable of greatness.

Hainan Chicken
Did not intend for this soft focus effect whoops

Since it’s been quite some time since I’ve had it, I can’t remember how well this Hainan chicken stacks up against the competition I’ve had in the past, but all that needs to be said is that it’s quite good! Naturally, I avoided the skin (though Canto people usually do), but luckily I didn’t have to have it as the chicken was reasonably tender and not too dry when taken in with the chicken stock. This is the ideal, as after all that slow steaming you’d expect the chicken to be tender.

Personally, I’d have it with slightly (ever so slightly!) damp rice and it’d be great. I’m surprised it cost $20.8 though – as you’ll soon see, Sambal is actually quite  good for a cheap eat.

Sar hor fun Combination of meat, seafood and vegetables served on a base of flat rice noodles with gravy
Sar hor fun
Combination of meat, seafood and vegetables served on a base of flat rice noodles with gravy – $13.8

The last time I’ve had combo hor fun (or let’s just call it gravy noodles from now on) was at Ivan’s Fernery at UNSW. A distinction is to be made between this type and the Thai type you’d find at Home Thai/Chat Thai in that the soup (“gravy”) itself is made with a different base stock, producing results that alternate between deep/rich/tangy and light/refreshing. This is the latter type.

This dish is actually amazing value for money coming in at only $13.8, and it tastes great to boot! The gravy stock ties everything in together, and none of the seafood deviates too far from how they should be cooked – none /too/ soft and non /too/ hard. The veggies seal the deal, as nothing can replicate their delicious crunch.

A meal in itself, actually. Totally serious.

Penang har mee soup (prawn mee) A combination of egg and rice noodles in a prawn based stock, served with kangkong and thinkly sliced pieces of pork and prawns
Penang har mee soup (prawn mee)
A combination of egg and rice hokkien noodles in a prawn based stock, served with kangkong and thinkly sliced pieces of pork and prawns – $13.8

The Lady doesn’t like har mee very much, because it apparently “harms me”. Um, OK.

I on the other hand, am very fond of the fishiness of the soup that defines har mee. It wasn’t overly fishy, and left a clear pungent (the good kind of pungent) tang on the palate with each bite.

Ample amounts of pork and not-too-hard hokkien noodles added on top, and boom, a classic har mee. Sure, it’s not rice noodles (for SOME reason), but that doesn’t detract from the dish really – all a matter of preference!

KL hokkien mee (our chef's special) Egg noodle braised in dark soya sauce with prawns, chicken, squid, fish cake and chinese vegetables
KL hokkien mee (our chef’s special)
Egg noodle braised in dark soya sauce with prawns, chicken, squid, fish cake and chinese vegetables – $14.8

Noodles stir-fried in dark soya sauce are particularly deadly to me. I could eat them pretty much nonstop. They just go down so easy!

Naturally, I was totally in love with the hokkien mee, despite knowing how bad it is for me. The oiliness, the carbs in the noodles yes…but then the amazing dark soy (kecap manis?) taste, the fish cakes and all that meat…my God.

A must get.

Nasi Lemak Fragrant coconut rice served with beef rendang or curry chicken, sambal anchovies, boiled egg, peanuts and pickled vegetables
Nasi Lemak
Fragrant coconut rice served with beef rendang, sambal anchovies, boiled egg, peanuts and pickled vegetables – $14.8

Nasi Lemak….absolutely yum. The spiciness of the been rendang and the crispiness of the spicily pickled veggies are a delight to have with rice. It’s another dish that I rarely have, yet savour it so much each time I do. Sambal doesn’t disappoint at all in this regard.

Sambal Nasi Lemak
Pity I didn’t have much of it :(
Penang char kway teow (mild) Flat rice-noodles stir-fried with prawns, chicken, eggs, chives and bean sprouts
Penang char kway teow (mild)
Flat rice-noodles stir-fried with prawns, chicken, eggs, chives and bean sprouts – $12.3

Like the nasi lemak, so I only managed to take this photo after it was partially eaten, oh the perils of eating with a group.  It’s decent kway teow, but I felt it wasn’t as enjoyable as some of the other dishes I’ve had that day. Perhaps sticking to the Malaysian dishes is a good idea.

Overall, I feel Sambal produces some decent food – fancy renditions of classic Malaysian hawker/street food. I wouldn’t say it’s worth a trek like the one I made, but if you’re there, it’ll do the job well done.

As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three :D

Awesome: friendly & helpful waitstaff

Not so Awesome: the Chinese dishes are not as good as the Malaysian

7/10 Caesars

Sambal on Urbanspoon

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