The One With Sabah Malaysian Restaurant – Sambal, Murtabak & Other Strange Names

On retrospect, probably it isn’t the wisest to head down to Sabah Malaysian Cuisine for dinner right after a grueling workout at the gym. Afterall, your body is at its most “absorbent” (to nutrients, that is) within two hours after workout. I even had a dose of protein shake.

But a promise is a promise is a promise. Plus, I have had a great experience at its other branch at Jaffe Road. This new outlet at Sheung Wan intrigued me. Would the quality hold the same? So we settled down, loosen our belts, and ordered.

Sambal Telur

Sabah Malaysian Restaurant

Now, this was a work of genius. Incredibly fragrant sambal (a type of spicy sauce made from a variety of chilli peppers) cooked with a healthy dosage of onions and chillies and God knows what else, mixed with hard-boiled eggs cut in halves. At first bite it was incredibly spicy, so much so that my eyes watered, but as the rich flavour took over I chewed it slowly, relishing the magical herbs cooked within. It can be too much for the uninitiated, so I recommend you to eat slowly if you are a sambal virgin. Of course, we would need a specialty carbs dish to go with sambal, so we looked at the Indian options available, and our eyes fall on…

Sardines Murtabak

Sabah Malaysian Restaurant

Stuffed pancake with sardines, garlic and onions. Best eaten piping hot, fresh from the oven (the making-off process is a spectacle to behold, what with all the folding and throwing and twirling) though ours came a little colder than preferable. The filling was not as thick as I hoped, but I reckon it will be weird to stuff the murtabak too full of sardines instead of other more “structurally sound” ingredient like, say, minced mutton. This Indian dish is usually best eaten dipped with a generous helping of curry, and for that we choosed…

Mixed Vegetables Curry

Sabah Malaysian Restaurant

Curry taste made to a spicy, sour perfection? Broth brewed to a thick, rich and intoxicating concoction? Check. Fresh, interesting vegetables like lady fingers and eggplants? Check. Perhaps I have not had a good curry for a long while now, so this was a breath of fresh air… or maybe not, what with all the garlic and onions. And also we were dimly aware that we ordered too many spicy dishes, so we decided to go differently with our main meat. And our meat of choice was…

Chicken Korma

Sabah Malaysian Restaurant

The chicken was simmered in a creamy fragrant sauce with onion, garlic, ginger and cashews. I was particularly excited about the cashew nuts (I know, me being nuts for nuts made me completely losing the plot here) but the chicken tasted odd. Too hard? Too chewy? Too… uncooked? I couldn’t decide, but it wasn’t what I expected. So when I told the captain about that, he suggested we replaced it with another dish, which we did with…

Hainanese Chicken

Sabah Malaysian Restaurant

Half a chicken, that is. And what a load of surprise. The mound of chicken was deceiving because it was laying on top of boiled bean sprouts, but that’s ok as I doubt we can finish everything on the table. I always thought that if your Hainanese chicken tasted way too good, it is probably because of copious amount of oil used. So I was rather glad this tasted just nice: being meaty enough that you are not chewing on bones, being oily enough for that great Hainanese flavour, and being tender enough that it made up for the bewildering chicken korma.

A word about the restaurant. The Queen’s Road Central branch has two levels – one at ground floor, one at basement which was with more seating capacity. Being the enclosed area it was and where the kitchen is located, don’t expect yourself to emerge smelling like a rose after a meal. Wait staff was attentive – glass of water was filled promptly, captains asked for feedback without being intrusive – though I would appreciate it if they would have told me that the Hainanese chicken cost almost double the chicken korma I replaced it with.

Sabah Malaysian Restaurant

Verdict? As colourful as I remembered it from its Jaffe Road branch, and the perfect port of call for those craving for some Malaysian food. Especially those like me who is a wondering soul so far away from home.

Sabah Malaysian Restaurant
Shop D, 142-146 Queen’s Road Central
2871 2628

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