BANGKOK RESTAURANT

Sambalacha Cafe

A kitchen serving Singaporean and Malaysian favorites. 

Only four months old, this restaurant presents a menu comprised of both Singaporean and Malaysian dishes. Popular picks include My Mother’s Nasi Lemak Set (coconut rice with fried chicken, spicy sampal belacan, fried anchovies, peanuts, eggs and cucumber, B150) and Singaporean laksa (imported laksa noodles, chicken, prawns, fish balls, fried bean curds in a rich coconut-based soup, B180).

You’ll have to travel a little further for a steaming bowl of laksa (B179) or a fragrant nasi lemak (B129), with news that one of the city’s most authentic Malay-Singaporean restaurants, Sambalacha, has swapped Chula for Bangna (Bangna Trad Soi 56, to be precise). Expect the same warm, welcoming service at the new townhouse location, but good news if the trek’s too daunting: they still do delivery (hit up 063-929-5615, www.fb.com/unclepangnasilemakbkk). 

 


BK Food Review  ★★★

This review took place in November 2015 and is based on a visit to the restaurant's former I'm Park (Chula) location without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.

 

Situated on the third floor of I’m Park, a bland, student-centric community mall behind Chulalongkorn, this modest operation doesn’t immediately stand out from all the Japanese chains and copycat cafes. With its fluoro lighting and candy-colored walls, it looks like just another dessert cafe. But in fact Sambalacha does some of Bangkok’s most authentic Malay-Singaporean food.

 

It’s owned by a Singaporean and his Thai wife, who cooks up a tight menu of recipes drawn from the former’s Malaysian mother. There’s nothing too fancy; just home-cooked staples like nasi lemak, laksa and Hokkien mee, done right. These are not quite street food prices, but nor are they exorbitant considering many of the ingredients need to be imported.
 
The cutely-named My Mother’s Nasi Lemak Set (B129), which comes with fragrant coconut rice, fried anchovies, prawn crackers, peanuts, eggs and cucumber, only bursts to life once you add a liberal dollop of spicy and pungent sambal—but oh how it all comes together. The highlight of the dish, though, has to be the accompanying “air-fried” chicken (no oil used in the cooking process), which is so juicy and nicely seasoned that you’ll want to order seconds (B40 per piece or B100 for three).
 
The laksa (rich, coconut-based soup, B179) is near-overflowing with seafood, fried bean curd and chicken. It’s certainly spicy but far from one-dimensional owing to the inclusion of fresh cockles, which add these unexpected little pockets of salty goodness. The fishballs, too, are a far bouncier and flavorful prospect than those found in most Thai soups.
 
More of an acquired taste is the rojak rojak (B79), a sweet and spicy fruit salad (pineapple, Asian pear, water chestnut and more) that goes heavy on the tamarind and shrimp paste; we found ourselves most interested in digging out the delicious little chunks of fried tofu.
 
We love that these flavors are real and not toned down. The friendly co-owner and chef told us, “Most of our clientele is foreign. Thais don’t really know our food.” That’s a shame, really. Sambalacha serves up a no-holds-barred homage for those familiar with the flavors of Singapore or Malaysia, amid an atmosphere that’s welcoming for newbies.

 

Venue Details
Address: Sambalacha Cafe, Bang Na-Trat Soi 56, Bangkok, Thailand
Phone: 063-929-5615
Website: www.facebook.com/unclepangnasilemakbkk
Area: Bang Na
Cuisine: Asian
Price Range: B - BB
Open since: July, 2015
Opening hours: Wed-Sun 11am-9:30pm; Mon 11am-9:30pm
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