Taman Tun Dr. Ismail may be the default haven for Malay food and restaurants around Petaling Jaya. But let me tell you this, in a case of the grass is greener on the other side, cross under the Penchala Link underpass and you’ll discover many Malay eateries there that would make TTDI residents green with envy. Even Muhibbah, one of city’s most loved no-frills Halal Chinese restaurants has given their stamp of approval by moving on to the greener pastures of Kampung Sungai Penchala recently (read Masak-Masak’s blog on their relocation).
Sambal Hijau is one of the few gems I’ve come across here. I have the cooking guru, Rohani Jelani, to thank for highlighting this Nasi Padang-styled place to us. I’ve no idea why it has taken me this long to actually step inside for a meal, but I’m glad to finally put my procrastination aside and paid them a visit.
Lord knows how much I would have missed their tasty beef rendang that melts in your mouth, swathed in rich rempah (spices) and sitting on a bed of rice that has been doused with a concoction of kuah (gravies) from all the various Padang dishes. Green herbs and vegetables in form of ulam, a perfect foil to the richness of the curry dishes, eaten with the restaurant’s namesake sambal hijau (green chili paste) – a tangy and mildly spicy cilantro, garlic, green chilies pesto with a bitter aftertaste from the pea eggplants – will have you double dipping your cucumber sticks like there’s no tomorrow.
It was hard to keep count on how many delectable dishes they have exactly on their long spread. The only thing that could rival its length was the impatient queue behind me as I took my turn in scooping up (and photographing) the dishes from silver square trays. I acted like a kid in a candy store when faced with their equally colourful array of crab curry, chicken curry, beef rendang, masak lemak sotong (calamari curry), sambal kerang (chili cockles), gulai urat lembu (beef tendon curry), prawn sambal, fried chicken and fried fish in sambal, kerabu pucuk paku (fern and herb salad), and many more.
Ikan Bakar (grilled fish) lovers will be pleased to find choices of grilled ikan terubuk, ikan kembung (mackerel) or ikan keli (catfish) are made-to-order. While many swear by the sweet and bony terubuk, I’ve always preferred the velvety catfish whenever I have Malay food. They are great eaten with the accompanying dips of kicap manis with shallots and cili padi, sambal with the shallots and cili padi. Though the three types of dips are to be eaten with different types of fishes, I just put all three into my plate and sweat it out.
One other appetizing favourite that you musn’t miss is the nenas masak lemak ikan masin – a light turmeric, galangal and chili curry flavoured with fried salted fish bones and contrasted with sweet pineapple slices in a milky suntan gravy which you MUST flood your rice with. The secret is to take loads of the pineapple and not touch the salted fish one bit. Don’t forget the crispy ayam goreng rempah (spiced fried chicken), sambal bitter gourd and brinjal and the kerabu pucuk paku too!
I have to stop myself from describing more about the food here because I can still go on forever. So to cut the story short, just bring an army of friends with empty stomachs and give any dish that catches your eyes a try. Chances are you will not be disappointed and it is kind to your wallet.
#2990 Kg. Sungai Penchala, Jalan Damansara
Tel: +603-7725 3259
Business Hours: 6:00am – 2:00am (almost 24-hours)
Directions: If you’re coming from LDP or Bandar Utama or 1Utama, take the Penchala Link Exit 1101A and keep left, then take Exit 2317 and turn left into Kg Sg Penchala at the traffic lights. Make another left as you approach the second set of traffic light and the yellow-coloured Masjid Jamek Taas. Sambal Hijau is located next to the mosque. You may park at the open lot next to the restaurant.