In East Passyunk, Sate Kampar sits comfortably between a men’s boutique and an antique shop. The coffee bar and open kitchen give the restaurant a casual vibe during the day, but the limited seating and dim lighting create a more cozy feel during the night. Visually, the BYO restaurant is more “hipster brunch” than “Malaysian street food” with its exposed brick walls and glass bottles of water. I browsed my menu with high hopes.
The menu offers a variety of Malaysian foods, with a focus on sate, or skewered meats. There are two types: sate Kajang, served with spicy peanut sauce, and sate Melaka, served with pineapple peanut sauce ($10 for five skewers). We ordered a set of each and savored the balance between the smokiness of the grilled meat and the acidity of the sauces. The spicy peanut sauce was not as spicy as I’d anticipated, but still added a burst of flavor and an unexpected consistency to the meat.
Everything on the menu is designed for sharing. In addition to the sate, we ordered Nasi Lemak Bungkus (coconut cream–soaked rice topped with peanuts, anchovies, and a spicy sauce that’s all wrapped in a banana leaf, $8) and Rendang Daging (braised beef in a paste of mixed spices and coconut cream, $13). Famous in Malaysia, the Nasi Lemak Bungus packs a punchy coconut flavor and lets you control flavor level by adding the spicy sauce and other add–ons (and it’s aesthetically pleasing—I’d Insta that shit). My favorite part of the evening was definitely the Rendang Daging, which also has a strong coconut base (I’m getting the sense that meat and coconuts are popular in Malaysia) as well as an aromatic mix of spices. The tender beef is spicy at first but mellows out, much like my personality over the course of a drunken Friday night.
The restaurant also features popular Malaysian drinks. Sate Kampar offers a number of kopitiams—different forms of coffee and tea drinks—and minuman—Malaysian classics like fresh Malaysian coconuts. And you thought drinking from a coconut only happened at the beach.