After an unlucky failed start selling salads to city workers in Spitalfields right before the Covid-enforced lockdown in 2020, Mambow was sadly forced to shut. Now, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, chef-owner Abby Lee has reinvented her concept. Using her Cordon Bleu training, Michelin star kitchen experience and Peranakan heritage, she combines all three to deliver modern-Malaysian cooking to Peckham.
The space is tucked away in the back corner on the ground floor within Market Peckham, a swanky new but slightly soulless Boxpark-like co-working space and cultural hub opposite Peckham Rye Station. Mambow shares the space with other independent restaurants and shops like Tonkotsu and Forza Wine.
Don’t expect white tablecloths and a prim and proper atmosphere because things here are a pretty casual affair. Rock up, grab a table and choose from a small seasonal changing paper menu, paired with a selection of natural wines, Hoko milk tea or sparkling fermented teas. First up, lor bak. A plate of deep-fried bean curd clusters stuffed to the brim with juicy pork and fish sauce served with a fiery chilli jam dip. They looked and tasted like unbelievable crunchy and crispy mini-explosions. Every bite was the ultimate combination of tangy, spicy, herby and aromatic flavours.
I eventually dropped the pleasantries and gnawed the whole thing off the bone with my fingers because it was that good
The powerful punches don’t stop at starters. The jackfruit curry was comforting, creamy and full of complexities. The pieces of jackfruit were generously flecked throughout and the delightful meat imitation absorbed everything, which gave a lovely, warming slow heat build that doesn’t sear off all your taste buds in one fell swoop. However, the black sarawak pepper chicken (Abby’s grandmother’s Nyonya recipe) stole the show. A thiccc (yes, three c’s), burnished and impressive chicken thigh came with perfectly taut golden brown skin covered in a floral peppery gravy-like sauce. I eventually dropped the pleasantries and gnawed the whole thing off the bone with my fingers because it was that good.
To round off, a perfect antidote to the current balmy heatwave. A refreshing bowl of pandan green cendol (Southeast Asian iced dessert with green rice flour jelly) topped with a mountain of red beans. Traditionally, it’s made with a coconut milk base but a coconut granita was used instead, which soothed and jolted you back awake. The whole melted to become an invigorating watery thirst-quenching coconut pool of delight. Absolutely heavenly stuff.
On my visit, I sat at the chef’s table counter watching Abby and her team work through a flurry of orders being calm, cool and collected in the kitchen. The entire time she had a huge smile on her face enjoying every minute of it. You can tell a lot of love, care and attention has gone into this place. I really hope Mambow 2.0 survives and thrives, despite its obscure and vibeless location. Go now, seek it out and show it some love.
The vibe A soulless gentrified subway-tiled co-working space and cultural hub with a decent food court on the ground floor.
The food Comforting and powerful food that’s full of flavour that you want to keep coming back time and time again for.
The drink A great selection of all-natural wines, beers, Hoko Hong Kong milk tea and sparkling fermented teas.
Time out tip Order the life-affirming sarawak black pepper chicken and pandan cendol with coconut granita if you know what’s good for you.