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Cafe Sambal

43 Doufuchi Hutong, Jiugulou Dajie
6400-4875
Malaysian
Overall
Editor
Editor Rating (Review): 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)
Address:
43 Doufuchi Hutong, Jiugulou Dajie
Address in Chinese:
旧鼓楼大街豆腐池胡同43号
Opening Hours:
11:30am - 12pm
Phone:
6400-4875
Price range:
¥300-399
Category:
Neighborhood:
Posted by:

Description

This long-standing Beijing restaurant is housed in an exquisite renovated courtyard and boasts some of the city's best Malaysian cuisine. The tom yum soup is one of the best in town, and the curries don't disappoint. The four-sided beans in cashew sauce is an unmissable specialty, as is the kuih dadar coconut dessert.

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Phone:
6400-4875

Comments

Comments

travelfloo's picture

travelfloo

I visited Cafe sambal after reading some reviews on one fine Saturday. The Service was horrible to begin with. We ordered their Speciality, Malay Chicken and some Curry. To my disappointment the Chicken was raw, and pink inside. I was about to puke after that bite. The rice was delivered 20 mins after the curry. We sat there waiting ! and eventually ate cold food. The waiter did not give a shit that we were there. He had to be called every minute and reminded to provide water, chopsticks or tissues. The only good part of the cafe was its location in a Hutong which is why i am even giving it a 2 star. Terrible Experience !! They really need to improve on service.
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phramok's picture

phramok

It really is in a gorgeous renovated hutong setting, but it's also true that the food is as overpriced as everyone says. Think of it as a date night -- I went with someone special and enjoyed treating them to gado gado, curry, long beans and cashew stir fry, and eggplant with shrimp. Tasty and feels oh-so-fancy, but also ran me 260RMB, no alcohol included. One could argue, if going that fancy, why not splurge for the fresh pastas at Luce just down the road? And if going southeast Asian, then the many, many Vietnamese and Yunnan places nearby are a better value.
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eatasia2013's picture

eatasia2013

Coming from South Africa where we have a considerable Malay influence in our cooking I opted here for a quick lunch before yet again doing another police office registration for my new Hutong home. Three months of exploring Chinese cuisine has taken its toll , so a little breather this week with home cooking and some new restaurants. Rainy day , perfect setting , beautiful and a pleasant surprise down Doufuchi Hutong . A pity the staff speak no English when the weekday lunch specials indicates to ask the waiting staff. I yet have not mastered much Chinese ! I opted for the roti Canai - with Kapitan chicken curry and a portion of vegetable samosas - the roti appeared a little less like we would eat it back home , but was delicious , the sauce incredibly good . Thick , sweetly spiced Kapitan curry - Part of Nyonya cooking ( Chinese immigrants into the Indonesian archipelago and Malaysia) . The samosas were good but were served with Ketchup ? I asked for the sambal sauce but then got soy ! The Rest of the menu is elegant and definitely invites more exploration in the future . Not cheap , but a nice alternative and looking forward to dinner here with a small but good wine list , cigars and of course some great single malt whiskies. Eating Asia - Francine Booysens Find it : corner of Jiugulou St. And Doufuchi Hutong , Dongcheng District +86(010)64004875 Coming from South Africa where we have a considerable Malay influence in our cooking I opted here for a quick lunch before yet again doing another police office registration for my new Hutong home. Three months of exploring Chinese cuisine has taken its toll , so a little breather this week with home cooking and some new restaurants. Rainy day , perfect setting , beautiful and a pleasant surprise down Doufuchi Hutong . A pity the staff speak no English when the weekday lunch specials indicates to ask the waiting staff. I yet have not mastered much Chinese ! I opted for the roti Canai - with Kapitan chicken curry and a portion of vegetable samosas - the roti appeared a little less like we would eat it back home , but was delicious , the sauce incredibly good . Thick , sweetly spiced Kapitan curry - Part of Nyonya cooking ( Chinese immigrants into the Indonesian archipelago and Malaysia) . The samosas were good but were served with Ketchup ? I asked for the sambal sauce but then got soy ! The Rest of the menu is elegant and definitely invites more exploration in the future . Not cheap , and if you are looking for large portions stay away ! but a nice alternative and looking forward to dinner here with a small but good wine list , cigars and of course some great single malt whiskies. Will be back.
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zachary_franklin's picture

zachary_franklin

I didn't realize Cafe Sambal was getting this beat up by reviews. The restaurant was a pleasant experience. Very interesting interior. I don't know if they can keep up that kind of ambiance in the winter months, but for the summer it was enjoyable. Definitely looks like a great place for a date. As a large group, we ordered a smattering of dishes and went to town.
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tostam's picture

tostam

We went to cafe Sambal with 4 people. First impression: very dark and cold interior. We ordered a good bottle of Chardonnay wine. We had long beans, which was very salty. The prawn spring rolls were fine with a very creamy, tasty sauce. Two meat curries - meat was not tender at all and the portions were tiny. The vegetable curry was very nice - mild taste and good mix of veggies. The gado gado was quite tasty too. The staff was uninterested and charged us too much - 35 RMB for a soda (20 RMb is already rather steep). Our conclusion was that the food was not worth the price, the interior not appealing and the whole atmosphere doesn't make us visit again. There are plenty of better alternatives n Beijing!
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tostam's picture

tostam

We went to cafe Sambal with 4 people. First impression: very dark and cold interior. We ordered a good bottle of Chardonnay wine. We had long beans, which was very salty. The prawn spring rolls were fine with a very creamy, tasty sauce. Two meat curries - meat was not tender at all and the portions were tiny. The vegetable curry was very nice - mild taste and good mix of veggies. The gado gado was quite tasty too. The staff was uninterested and charged us too much - 35 RMB for a soda (20 RMb is already rather steep). Our conclusion was that the food was not worth the price, the interior not appealing and the whole atmosphere doesn't make us visit again. There are plenty of better alternatives n Beijing!
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gally

Nice place, good food, but too too too expensive. A little pretentious...
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lisa_gay

I wanted to like this place, but the food was underwhelming. Tofu with sambal sauce and chicken satay skewers. Neither was bad, but just so.........blah. And Malaysian should not be blah. And I paid a lot for that blahness as well, too. I will say that the decor is hutong beautiful, and would be a nice place for a date...if the food wasn't so, blah.
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mretrobay

Having just moved to Beijing and homesick for some authentic Singaporean food, we ventured forth to Cafe Sambal - assuming the slate of poor reviews had to be excessive. I mean, 1-star??? C'mon... Now that we've spent 278rmb on a decidedly under-whelming dinner for 2, I'd award 1-star only for the restaurant's cunningly dark lighting preventing you from seeing what you're eating. And what were we eating? Well, more like what were we NOT eating..... The Otak (60rmb for 7 bite-sized pieces) was definitely NOT OTAK. It was closer to Thai fish cake (tod mun pla). If you were expecting tod mun pla, you might be half-satisfied, but if otak was what you came for, big disappointment. Next came the Laksa - or 咖喱米粉 - as the menu put it. Clever. Not in a million years would you guess it was laksa in a blind taste test. But 咖喱米粉, maybe. Hoping dessert might somehow compensate for everything, we instead found the goreng pisang as banana-like as boiled potato. In summary, if you're going there to impress a none-the-wiser date with "exotic" Singaporean/Malaysian food served in a dark cave, this place will do the trick. But if you know better and food is your main priority - the other reviewers are spot-on....AWAS! jangan makan disini indeed...
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kahumphrey

complete rip off. went for a light snack. vietnamese spring rolls ended up being one spring roll cut into four bite sized pieces (for 30 kuai!) and the triangular samosas ended up being no bigger than my thumb at the width (and i have small hands!). a plate of 5 cost 30 kuai which works out to be 6 kuai for a bite-size deep-fried chinese-spring-roll-wrapped bit of curried potato with one single pea. they also charged 20 kuai for a regular can of coke (it's not it was brought in from malaysia). stay away!
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suuzl

Beautiful Decor, but food and service is not great. I've been there twice, the first time I was awed by the gorgeous hutong interior, I ordered the oxtail soup with rice and my partner had the curry laksa. The Soup was average, but they kept forgetting to bring my rice, I had to order it 3 times before it finally came. There were only 3 other people in the restaurant at that time...The second time I tried the Tomyam, first they brought out the wrong order, and I had to wait nearly 45mins for my Tomyam to finally arrive, when it did it was cold and they told me they "ran out of rice"...?! Which I couldn't for the life of me understand how you can run out of rice..and I was informed I had to wait half an hour for them to cook a new batch of rice. Pretty Decor but expensive mediocre food and unimpressive service.
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wakingthecity's picture

wakingthecity

Don't say overpriced at this restaurant, otherwise you will have food poisoning. After I said to my friend the food in here is too expensive, the waitress slammed the door. Bad service, and bad food! defin overpriced.
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billyboy's picture

billyboy

food wasn't that great. i think it is a bit overpriced bit dissapointed about the food.
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sarafang

Haha ... over priced for simple malaysian cuisine. Never went back after first time there 7 years ago i think ... and with all your comments above it seemed the owner doesn't really care if he charges a bomb! Well, people still go and I guess he is still making the money if not more ... kudos to him the businessman!
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siennapc's picture

siennapc

I'd heard all about what a great date spot this place is, but now that I've been there, I wonder if it's because it's so dark there! A little more lighting would have been welcome, if only to see the food better. The tom yam seafood soup was delicious -- spicy, but not too spicy. The mango rolls were extremely refreshing, and I loved the fresh mango and cilantro. The mutton curry seems mild and sweet on first bite but soon becomes very spicy. It was enjoyable, but I needed several servings of rice to finish it. I was really surprized by how good the desserts were. I don't really like tapioca/sago pearls, but the sago gula Malacca was served in this cold coconutty soup that was so delicious I could barely stop myself from finishing it so my dining partner had a chance to try. The kuih dadai, toasted coconut strips wrapped in a green-colored crepe, was also really pleasant. I didn't think the prices were any higher than other foreign food in Beijing. The only real downside is the dim lighting and draftiness--I hope they provide blankets in the winter!
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ivorynightfall

poor poor service. food was too oily, servers too rood, and everything too pricy for me to ever consider going back.
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thinkpositive

The atmostphere in the evening can be like a nice romantic place but the food could be a disappointment for the those who beleive in the best. Some curry though look authentic but the ingredients used dont taste same as one would have in malaysia or other authentic malaysian restaurants. The food portions are too small,though we we are not big eaters, is for those large sized guys to order more ! The restaurant looks overpriced. We paid rmb 400 plus for a simple meal .
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sweetie

In this world of recession , I beleive there are many more options for malaysian or asian food for less than half of the value of 1000 for 4 people even if you go in for a nice wine. I have been here once but never went again because of the prices being so steep. Nothing much to complain of the food or service ,just the food is too expensive for the value of the money.
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baobabs's picture

baobabs

I agree with jimmymatrix. Average fare at expat prices.
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jimmymatrix's picture

jimmymatrix

You would pay at least five times less for the real authentic foods in singapore or malaysia. Apart from the old hutong ambiance which expats loved, they are nothing interesting about this restaurant. The portions are absolutely small and it is not the spirit of south east asian cuisine. I bet the rent must be extremely high. The curry was bit bland for my taste and lack of curry paste.
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guilty_b's picture

guilty_b

Cafe Sambal was an interesting experience. The restaurant is modest, creating a casual atmosphere with it's couches, wooden benches and outdoor courtyard. The food was standard, but enjoyable enough. Staff were very friendly and obliging, but a bit disorganised. All in all, although not what I was expecting, it was a pleasant evening.
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amphivera's picture

amphivera

I have no complaints about the architecture of the place. Sure, the chairs might be uncomfortable and the paint might be peeling off the walls. And yeah, it might be a wee bit too chilly for comfort during the winter months. Well, it's a restaurant operating out of an old siheyuan, so what should I expect? My problem, like everyone else, lies with the meager portions and exorbitant pricing. I concede that my curry was good, but is it worth over fifty quai for that and a sad bowl of rice? I'm not a 5 star chef or anything, but I feel like with some chicken, curry/chili powder, ginger, onion, garlic, coconut milk and potatoes, I can probably recreate the results for less than half that price and serve ten people.
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snypes007

Been here several times and used to be run and hands on management from malaysian father and his daughter. This time i took a few friends and we ordered at least 8 dishes for 5 pax, the waitress said it was enough and when the dishes came they were so small with 3 pieces of meet in each dish. The ambiance is laid back and nice but I would recommend never to go here because they have gotten so stingy. Such a shame since Shona was there (malaysian owner) it has become so dissapointing..... 0 out of 10
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chrissy_ysy's picture

chrissy_ysy

By far the best and most authentic place for Sambal and Belachan lovers! I'd say the food compensates for the "slow" service. Don't miss their Rojak, Sambal Prawns, Kangkung Belachan. Yummmm... Pricing is slightly Mahal, but then again there are loads of places charging a bomb without delivering the "real" stuff! :)
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sleeplessinbj's picture

sleeplessinbj

i think cafe sambal has a really unique ambiance. the food is good. i asked for their sambal (chili sauce) and it tasted like what i had at home (im indonesian). very good. their ikan bakar is also really good. omg... rendang is good. kangkung belacan, beef/chicken curry is good too. the price tag following the dishes are pricey. but i like the environment so i think its ok. the service is ok. never had problems with that. but only one thing, i found the place is not really nice if u want to have a private conversation as people at other table can easily listen to what ure talking about especially when not many people in the restaurant. some of the seats i found not so comfortable. i tried several spots, they have the wooden chair, wooden bench even there are some seats that allow us to sit without chair with low table (japanese style). but still i will come back for the food. i like it.
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kurov

Cafe Sambal is just bad value for money. Four people can easily rip through RMB1000 if they order wine, and that's way too much for what you get - competently prepared Malaysian standards. It's the tiny portions and the savage wine markups that do the damage, and all the smiling service and cutesy hutong ambiance in the world don't compensate.
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conker206's picture

conker206

Rather unpleasant experience. I'm not sure about other folks, but the atmosphere was dark and dreary (so dark that they provided flashlights to with the menu), food is far from authentic, and service was well no more than any other restaurant in the hood. Ordered Beef Rendang, Mutton Curry, and Chicken Satay, Sambal Eggs -- hmm, call it innovative or fusion, but preparation was far from anything I experienced in Singapore, Shanghai, or even as far as Vancouver. Our experience was disrupted when the curry came and there was no white rice to be found. After waiting for an entire cycle with that tiny rice cooker, we were finally served some mush wet rice. Wow, thing like that to rob the curry of its full glory; had it any in the first place. Sorry to say, but the vote is THUMBS DOWN from this foodie.
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elsiecakes's picture

elsiecakes

I like this place. Maybe I didn't notice the mould because it was too dark but I took some friends there and we really enjoyed ourselves. Being part Indonesian, I can appreciate that when I ask for spicy, it's the kind of spicy I would get in Indonesia. My only beef with this restaurant was the sticker shock I recieved when I looked at the prices on the menu. Still, I must say I enjoyed the food and the atmosphere, which is the stuff that will keep me coming back.
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xigor's picture

xigor

I don't agree with the above comments. For me, Cafe Sambal is just a rotten place with average Malaysian food and relatively pricey offering. Look at the walls: the walls are moldy, paint is falling. It doesn't cost much to spend couple of days renovating the place and providing a basic hygienic environment. This is just disgusting to eat with such a mold sight next to your plate of food. I can't call a place dirty, a hip place. I feel the restaurant is just a trap and trying to be cool. Food is just average and definitely not worth its price tag. Only on the drink list, Mojitos are really worth giving a try. Service is simply amateur. Waitresses seem have been recruited from the street with a 1 hour training. For all the respect I have for Cho (the owner), every time I have been to Cafe Sambal, I felt being cheated. That's probably the reason why I don't go there anymore.
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dominic's picture

dominic

I like hutongs for their atmosphere and people. Cafe Sambal has a lot of it, even though it has been slightly on the decline lately. Passed there today for some drinks and was slightly stunned to see that their plants were totally withered and cushions for the sometimes a little hard old chinese chairs not readily available. I haven't had tried the (somewhat pricey) food yet, so I cannot comment. Still, quite a nice place to go for a chat, especially in the evening.
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adidasxk's picture

adidasxk

It does have a very good atmosphere, dining in the courtyard does give another different experience. But as mentioned it is more pricey than normal Malaysian restaurant, but pretty fair as well. The food is using some replacement ingredients, so some of the items might not live up to it. The bar area is quite nice and calm, while the bed area is just cozy for a nice chat.
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ricksk

Was recommended to this place by an American..whom just came to China for a visit. Kinda ashame that I haven't heard of this place even after living in Beijing for 6 years now. Food is tasty although very expensive compared to the portion that was served. Some dishes looksmore like having been customized rather than authentic Malaysian style. Nevertheless, who cares as long as it taste nice. Like the old Chinese courtyard style architecture.
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duncanshaunsmith's picture

duncanshaunsmith

Great atmosphere and very good food. Service can be slow though if it is busy. Well worth a visit.
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sterrey

The atmosphere here, as with Bed bar, is very chilled with candlelit tables, and the vibe of being transported. Friday night was busy and took a while to get the food out to us, but if you need to chill out and eat delicious food, don't miss it
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