Preview: Sambal

One draw of the newly opened (September) Thai restaurant Sambal is the 48-seat Hudson River-facing deck. 

Another, according to owner Navjot Arora, who moved his modern Indian restaurant Chutney Masala from the waterfront location (to make room for Sambal) to a space on Irvington’s sloping-toward-the-river main thoroughfare, is: “Thai is one of the cuisines not represented well in the county.” 

To execute authentic Thai dishes, Arora enlisted Hastings resident Nualchawee “Lucky Thai” Tungwongsakul, who grew up in Bangkok and previously headed up a catering company in Las Vegas.  

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Chef Lucky Thai researched many area Thai restaurants, including in Manhattan, and was not impressed. “There were a lot of sauces that were too sweet, a lack of fresh herbs, and the use of canned ingredients.” 

Dishes to sample at Sambal include a sweet-scented tom yum soup with mushrooms, shrimp, and chicken; pineapple fried rice and massaman curry made with free-range lamb.  Entrées range from $14 to $24. 

A short cocktail list has creative offerings ($12), such as the Black Lotus (Prosecco, Earl Grey syrup, St. Germain liqueur).  

Sambal’s décor combines the hard edges of the building’s warehouse setting (exposed ductwork, distressed brick) with softer Asian design elements: natural woods, velvet banquettes, and a large multicolored umbrella-veneer chandelier that hovers above the staircase to the main dining area.  

There are a couple Malay dishes on the menu, as well (flat-grilled crispy Malaysian bread with a potato-curry dip and chicken thighs simmered in coconut milk with lemongrass), and Arora wants to expand those offerings in time. “Authentic Malay fare can be fishy and overpowering,” says Arora, “so I’ll take a bit before introducing more.” 

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