Sambal Shiok in a nutshell
Mandy Yin has gone from street food stall to Malaysian pop up, and now has her own laksa bar in Highbury.
What’s the vibe?
The cosy room is paved with wooden floorboards, dark-blue walls are lined with Malaysian street scenes in gilt frames and bright artwork posters. Mandy and her team hustle away behind a counter in the open kitchen, assembling bowls of comforting laksa and sprinkling fresh herbs onto veggie salads.
What’s the food like?
Simple Malaysian dishes are executed very well. A vegetarian salad of shredded carrot, thin slices of mooli and pickled cucumber is tossed in peanut sauce with tiny cubes of fried potato, and Malaysian fried chicken is some of the best we’ve tried – super-succulent chicken pieces are marinated in turmeric and fennel seeds with cumin and coriander then tossed in chickpea gram flour and fried until extra crunchy and golden.
There are five laksas to choose from – tofu, chicken, prawn, and a special laksa encompassing all of the above, as well as a vegan special with charred aubergine and sautéed potatoes. Slosh around in the fragrant liquid to find succulent chicken pieces, huge plump prawns, spongy pieces of tofu and crunchy green beans. Slippery rice and springy egg noodles add to the various textures that are slurped up from the rich coconutty broth. Beef rendang is a melting concoction of tender beef in a deep and complex sauce, served with fluffy rice.
And the drinks? The short wine list is selected by Zeren Wilson from bittenandwritten.com, who has chosen a couple of dry rieslings amongst other wines from The Winery. We suggest sticking to the Malaysian drinks – lemongrass and chilli iced tea, and sweet rice milk with fragrant rose syrup to finish.
olive tip: Save your booze pennies for a glass of wine or two among the olive trees of Westerns Laundry’s terrace, just a few minutes’ walk away. Here’s our dinner party menu from Westerns Laundry to try at home.
171 Holloway Road, Islington