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I miss SE Asian food. Since I moved to Shanghai, my palate misses the spices, the sheer heat of bird chili as well as lemongrass and sambal. That was until I discovered Cafe Sambal in Jiashan Market. Cho Chong Gee, the owner, hails from Malaysia and delivers authentic Malaysian food daily at Cafe Sambal. Whether it’s a curry you are craving, or satay, beef randang or rojak…the menu is chock full of Malaysian specialties.

I went with a half Malaysian friend as a barometer. Malaysian is probably the SE Asian cuisine with which I have the least experience. Some, but not a lot. And I wanted to get a local’s point of view. We decided to go for a leisurely Sunday brunch in order to try as many dishes as possible. Does Cafe Sambal deliver? Indeed it does.

To shake the wintry chill of Shanghai, we started with a warming cup of Tea Tarik – a spicy, ginger milk tea common to Malaysia. As we perused the menu my dining companion started to get excited. There were so many dishes he wanted to try and he started to talk excitedly – curries, noodles, fish cakes! Turns out the 88RMB brunch menu provides lots of dishes for sharing which was perfect considering a growing fear that our eyes were way bigger than our stomachs. In fact the brunch menu is special in that Cafe Sambal adds special dishes that they don’t have time to make during the week, and as a result the menu changes about every 2 weeks. Another good reason to come back again!


So with the brunch menu we were able to try:

Chicken Satay, an elevated version using better cuts of meat than the typical street food versions

Otak Otak, a Nonya-style fish cake wrapped in banana leaf

Accar, pickled papaya salad with peanuts and sesame

Fried Chicken with Sambal

Hokkein noodle with minced pork, this was one of my favourites and I desperately wanted to have a 2nd portion but didn’t want to be piggy

Beef Rendang, the best this side of Kuala Lumpur

Prawn fritter, a Cafe Sambal translation of a classic street food & Prawn with lemongrass and chili, a spicy classic (see above)

Hokkein meat roll, the ordinary name simply doesn’t do it justice, this is like a Malaysian meat loaf and who doesn’t like meatloaf?

Dragon Bean with cashew nut sauce, this was new to me and despite it’s appearance was also a favourite, don’t let the prehistoric look of the dragon beans scare you

And if that is not enough , a couple of amazing dessers including Kuih Dadar and Sago Gula Melaka.


Two things impressed me about this brunch and Cafe Sambal. The quality of the food and the value of the brunch menu. It makes for an amazing combination that will certainly keep me coming back. If you are a lover of SE Asian cuisine, you must pay Cafe Sambal a visit.

Cafe Sambal
Jiashan Park
37A, Lane 550 Shanxi Nan Lu,
near Shaoxing Lu
Shanghai, China
Telephone: +86 21 3368 9529

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