Sambal Shiok, Holloway Road – review

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A Malaysian laksa bar with bold flavours


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Plates of asian food in Sambal Shiok
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L

ower Holloway has another hit to add to its ever-growing list of awesome arrivals (stand up Westerns Laundry and Zia Lucia).

This Southeast Asian gem is the first permanent space for Mandy Yin, the chef-owner hailing from Kuala Lumpur. Three years ago she ditched the chicken satay burger that had garnered a strong following on the streetfood scene in favour of concentrating on the spicy noodle soup of her homeland, a dish increasingly asked for.

Sambal Shiok interior
Inside the colourful spot. Photo: Owen Bain
Fast forward to 2018 and we’re greeted by a buzzy, colourful joint decorated with splashes of red and blue (subtle references to Mandy’s native country), the right hand side adorned with pictures documenting her journey. “I call it my history wall,” she says.

Arrive early and put your name down on what is likely to be a lengthy list, then scoot off to a pub and await a call – a great system indeed. After receiving ours, we’re shown to a spot at the counter and watch the masters deftly at work. Attentive service ensues, and with a glass of Reisling in hand, we peruse the menu.


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Signature laksa. Photo: Angela Sam
To start is a generous portion of fried chicken. Crumbed in gram flour and spices, there’s no hint of oiliness, the thigh within moist and tender (tip: douse liberally in the accompanying kick-ass peanut sauce).

Up next is the signature laksa: we opt for poultry and prawn. Mouthwateringly good and unapologetically fiery, the steaming bowls are filled with a rich, coconutty broth (the homemade paste contains twenty ingredients), still-crunchy sticks of vibrant green beans and pieces of spongy tofu that have sucked up the moreish liquid. Buttery soft halal poultry and just-cooked seafood are carefully placed on top. Fancy a cheeky extra? Try a Clarence Court egg, soft boiled to perfection.

A plate of appetising-looking beef rendang catches our eye as we leave. “I don’t like holding back,” says Mandy. Chilli fiends, this is one for you.

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Open Tues – Sat, dishes from £3.50. Sambal Shiok, 171 Holloway Rd N7. More here.

Main image: Angela Sam

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