When the skies opened after a stellar lunch at BAO in Soho last year, the mizzle of the morning becoming a full-on deluge, we ran for cover. And in one of those little strokes of luck, we took shelter a hundred yards round the corner in The Sun and 13 Cantons.
And there, on the bar, my favourite beer on draught- not something often spotted. It was the prelude to a memorable afternoon, and I’ve been wanting to go back, so news of a Malaysian popup had me hankering for a return trip.
It’s a beautiful place, this- dark wood, old tiled walls in shades my regrettably blokey lack of colour discrimination falters at describing, save that it has ‘lots and lots of different greens’.
Sambal Shiok has been operating at street food events- there was a stall at Southbank that Friday, and their chicken satay burger there looks almost indecently good- but the step up to a pub residency involves the challenge of plated presentation.
They vault this hurdle with ease.
I’m anybody’s for good fried chicken and this is excellent fried chicken, admirably grease-free and crisp, and perfect for dunking into the thick satay sauce.
Delicate little chicken dumplings team glutinous casings with a mildly spice chicken filling, all laced with a potent chilli sauce. My prawn and chicken laksa goes huge on flavour: it’s full-on stuff, aromatic and sour and yet comforting, each ingredient having its place and each part perfectly cooked.
It’s clear that chef Mandy Yin is delivering taste without compromise: this is food painted in bold, confident, vivid strokes. It’s also pretty fiery and has me asking for a glass of coconut milk.
Before diving back in, of course.
A beef rendang nasi lemak is cooked down until the sauce is almost dry and the spices cling thickly to the chunks of beef. It’s deeply impressive.
Teamed with sticky coconut rice and a jet-fuelled sambal, it’s an instant winner. There’s an attention to detail, too- the pink slivers of pickled onion are the kind of sweet, crunchy thing you can easily imagine scarfing down by the bowlful.
A resoundingly successful meal, then, and all credit to Mandy Yin and her team for making the jump to more formal dining with such ease. All tables were full when we visited and their residency has proved so popular it has just been extended to October: catch them while you can.
The Sun and Thirteen Cantons
21 Great Pulteney St
Until 2 Oct (on a week’s break 19-26 June)
Tues to Fri 12-2.30pm, Sat 12.30-3pm
Tues, Weds & Sat 5.30-8.30pm
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This blog is a very simple thing.
I won’t try to sell you any hand lotion, exercise programmes, coffee syrups or Patagonian nose flutes. You won’t find tips on dating, ‘wellness’ or yoga mats.
I write because I love it (and food, as indicated by my increasing girth). Greed happens to be my Deadly Sin of choice, but at least it is never shy of providing me with subject matter.
A simple thing, then: all you get is me wittering on semi-coherently about places I’ve eaten at; hence a ‘restaurant blog’ rather than a ‘food blog’, although there are a few recipes scattered throughout.
From mezze to Michelin ‘fine dining’ and all points in between.