Restaurateur Mandy Yin will build on the success of critically acclaimed, adored laksa restaurant Sambal Shiok by opening a new, as yet unnamed Malaysian takeaway next door on Holloway Road. Yin says it will be “a completely separate concept to Sambal, a community-minded quick lunch and dinner option for students and local residents.”
In short: there will be no laksa. The restaurant, whose branding will make it entirely distinct from its sibling next door, is inspired by Malaysian economy rice stalls, offering “really tasty stir fries, braises, and curries,” including nasi campur, and Malaysian chicken curry with potatoes. Rice is the centre, not the side, with the curries, vegetables stir-fried with bean paste, or soy-braised chicken with honey and ginger accessories.
Yin told Eater that the idea has only crystallised recently, with the site at 169 Holloway Road acquired on 8 January. It’s partly a response to customers clamouring for a takeaway option at her phenomenally successful laksa restaurant, and partly a frustration with the paucity of casual, affordable, portable lunchtime meals in a city that rarely strays from the sandwich come midday, if not going for a fully fledged sit-down meal. “I’ve been here over 20 years, and I don’t understand why there are so few delis for Asian food. In Malaysia you’ll find these stalls everywhere, it’s anathema to have a sandwich to lunch — it’s a hot, cooked meal.”
Yin emphasises that this is decisively separate from Sambal Shiok, with all the food cooked on the new site and the operation planned so as not to cannibalise business from next door. It’s about feeding, both for the Holloway Road community that her restaurant calls home and for Yin’s desire to introduce as many people as possible to the breadth and depth of Malaysian culinary culture, its particularities and foibles as much as its defining roots: “economy rice is completely ubiquitous, low cost, good food.” She says that the idea is to serve enough food for one meal in a portion, rather than overloading — a dish of rice with a vegetarian curry or braise will come in at £4.50.
She plans to open in March, at the latest, starting out as a weekday operation from 12p.m. — 9p.m. She describes the food as what “I want to eat after a long day at work,” and hopes that the community that surrounds her will feel the same, with the focus on rice and takeaway dining feeling like something coming full circle for a restaurateur who got her start slinging rice boxes on the street food circuit. Now, funding a second opening entirely with money from her first, she’s ready to bring something new to the table.