Before the abrupt fire severely damaged the original location back in 2015, Sky Cafe has been South Philly’s hidden gem. Relocated at Washington Avenue in the beginning of this year, Sky Cafe remains its humble status. The restaurant sits quietly inside the Wing Phat Plaza, the same plaza that hosts Pho 75.
Despite its lack of advertisement, the restaurant still gets busy times to times, most of the customers are regulars, or semi-regulars, like myself. How can I be so certain? The casual way incoming diners and waiters talk to each other, occasionally in Indonesian, shows it all. While everything may change: new address, additional seating, unintentionally intimate ambiance from the scarce light fixtures, the food remains the same.
Sad news for anyone who is allergic to peanuts because you will see it in most of the appetizers. One of the best chicken satay in South Philly is here. The meat is marinated and grilled to perfection, then is topped with sweet peanut dressing. However, just like any barbecue, eat it a soon as possible and don’t let it sit out for too long because once the dressing gets cold, it loses its flavor.
We also got Batagor (fried fish cake, fried tofu, and egg with peanut sauce). To be honest, it will not be my choice of appetizers, because even though I love fish cakes, having them and tofu both being fried is a bit too greasy for me. The peanut sauce was also very heavy itself. Thankfully that it came with a slice of lime, the citrus really helped to alleviate the tension.
My first coconut rice platter, or its formal name, Nasi Lemak, was at here. The dish, particularly from Sky Cafe, usually is a combination of crispy anchovies, toasted peanuts, assorted pickles for additional crunch, and a boiled egg topped with sambal, the necessary spicy, chili paste sauce that brings every rich ingredients together, coherently.
For protein, you can choose between Ayam Goreng (a whole fried chicken thigh and drumstick) and Beef Rendang (similarly to stewed beef). Though I personally prefer Beef Rendang because it’s stewed and not fried, I can imagine the taste might be new to some customers who aren’t familiar with Malaysian food or Southeastern food in general. Ayam Goreng is a conservative choice.
If you’re in the mood for noodles, I suggest you to try Mie Komplit. It’s basically dry-style egg noodles with everything: char-siu pork (roasted pork), chicken, meatballs, fried wontons, soy egg, broiled veggies, and probably more but I can’t remember on top of my head right now.. Oh, and a side of chicken broth soup because people do get thirsty sometimes... Unlike Nasi Lemak, where crispy anchovies and sambal can appeal to be quite bold for newcomers, Mie Komplit is definitely way friendlier for anyone’s taste bud. If you had Chinese wontons noodles with roasted pork or duck, it’s same same but different, because of the other components.
Sky Cafe, though is a lesser known Malaysian restaurant compared to its other peers, is a delightful place of its own. I’m selfishly glad that the cafe doesn’t receive much media attention because that means I can comfortably enjoy my meal in a place that feels less off a restaurant, and more of home (I’m Vietnamese though but you know what I mean, I hope..)
Check out their Facebook for additional information!
Photos: Tri Do