Satay Satay is one of Kowloon’s newest additions, located at Exchange Tower next to MegaBox. It’s also the little sister of the famous Satay Inn in Tsim Sha Tsui. The brightly lit double-height dining room and the connecting al fresco area lend the restaurant an airy and spacious feel.
The furniture isn’t expensive, but the combination of white tables with sage-coloured fabric chairs exudes good taste. Avoid the tables directly below the big screen TVs though, unless you are dining alone and want to be distracted by Jade programming.
The menu is predominantly Singaporean and Malay, with specialties such as bak kut teh, laksa, satay, Hainan chicken and the popular snack of thick toast with kaya. In a bid to appeal to a wider audience, several Vietnamese dishes such as pho bo (rare beef noodles) and lemongrass pork chops have also been added.
The bak kut teh (a pork rib soup simmered with spices, herbs and garlic, $25), hits the mark, the delicious savoury aroma wafting from the bowl as soon as it’s put down.
The mixed satay set of chicken and pork ($58) is juicy if slightly burnt at the edges, and you can taste traces of lemongrass if you don’t dip it in the chunky peanut sauce. The fried morning glory with belachan and chilli also pleases and is not drenched in oil – you can actually see that the veggies are bright green instead of that darkened, overcooked colour found in some places.
The fish curry (choose which part of the grouper you want, from tail to head; we chose the middle part with the most meat) is also nicely cooked, with a creamy, medium-strength curry sauce; at $218 it's the most expensive dish on the menu. We dipped the remaining sauce into freshly tossed roti channai ($15).
It almost pains us to say this, as we are huge fans of Satay Inn’s boneless Hainan chicken, but the version here needs an overhaul. The waiter recommended the Hainan chicken sushi – yep, you guessed it, flavoured rice shaped into sushi balls topped with a small piece of chicken all wrapped in seaweed. Much ado about nothing, especially with the seaweed wrapping.
We decided to order a regular version, but found the meat rather bland and the skin hard to remove. The accompanying trio of sauces also needs work – the ginger dip suffered from too much green onion and the dark soy sauce could be sweeter. The saving grace was the flavoured rice, with luscious long grains slightly on the sticky side. The accompanying chicken giblet soup is usually an afterthought, but a clear consommé would be preferable to this murky version. A $58 tag for the set is cheap, but paying a bit extra at Satay Inn would be more worth your while.
The wait staff at Satay Satay are super friendly and efficient, and on chilly days there are heaters for outdoor patrons. It’s a pleasant dining experience for Kowloon Bay, but whether people can be drawn from nearby MegaBox remains to be seen. Leslie Chan
2/F, Exchange Tower, Wang Chiu Rd, Kowloon Bay, 2206 4938. Mon-Fri 7.30am-10pm, Sat & Sun 11am-10pm. Meal for two: around $200.