Food adventure @ Mamak
It’s rare that I have anything to look forward to on a Tuesday night but following a tutoring cancellation and a spur of the moment Mamak date with Thehouseofem, it was fast shaping up to be one of the best Tuesdays I’ve had in quite some time.
To Malaysians and travellers who have been to Malaysia, the term ‘Mamak’ refers to a street-side stall or restaurant. To others, like myself, Mamak defines the name of the Sydney restaurant that is renown for its roti and hawker-style dishes. Now established as one of Sydney’s top eateries, the owners have recently set up shop in Melbourne and already, it appears to be a hit with Melburnians. Word of long queues have reached my ears.
We arrived to an almost full restaurant (but no queues, woohoo) just before 6.30PM. Upon arrival, we were immediately greeted with the kitchen scene. Cleverly located at the front of the restaurant for all to see, individuals passing by can’t help but catch a glimpse of the kitchen and views of roti. For customers that take the bait and step foot into the venue, the tantalising aromas instantly seal their fate as a Mamak customer.
The restaurant was larger than expected and decked out with four rows of tables for two. Located quite close together, these tables could be pushed together to accommodate groups with more than two people.
Black and white canvas shots of the restaurant help set the dining scene in a stylish fashion.
Teh ais - ice milk tea.
Limau ais - fresh lime with syrup on ice.
On a somewhat warm day and after a brisk walk to the restaurant (gotta avoid those queues), an ice-cold ‘home-made’ lemonade hit the spot.
Roti canai - The original roti, crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside.
Ah, and finally we meet. Like prawn crackers in an Asian restaurant or bread in a European restaurant, roti canai seems to be the equivalent in a Malaysian restaurant. To date, I have heard plenty of wonderful things regarding the tastiness and fluffiness of Mamak’s roti and the real deal did not disappoint. As you can discern from the photo, it looked fluffy and light even going by appearance. Remember Agnes from Despicable Me? “IT’S SHOO FLUFFY I’M GONNA DIE!” Yes, it was the fluffiest roti I have encountered to date. As mentioned in their description, the roti was also very crisp and provided a subtle crunch when a bite was taken.
Warning: Disappointment may arise when your entree-sized serving disappears quite quickly and you don’t get your roti fix. It’s THAT good.
Chicken Murtabak - A local favourite, filled with spicy meat, cabbage, eggs and onion.
In contrast to the roti canai, which was quite light, the Murtabak is stuffed with filling and quite ‘heavy’. The Murtabak was essentially a thick omelette parcel encased in a thin and crisp layer of roti that was almost non-detectable due to the strong onion and egg presence. While great on paper and good for the first few bites, the flavours and dense texture of the Murtabak eventually became too much for two people.
Nasi lemak - fragrant coconut rice accompanied by an ensemble of sambal, peanuts, crispy anchovies, cucumber and hard-boiled egg (with curry chicken). ”Arguably Malaysia’s national dish.”
No complaints from thehouseofem so I’m assuming it was good.
Rojak - a Malaysian-style salad; prawn and coconut fritters, fried tofu, hard-boiled eggs, freshly shredded yambean and cucumber, topped with a thick spicy peanut sauce.
The flavours and textures were bountiful in this dish. To note, the prawn and coconut fritters were not one entity but rather two separate elements. The coconut fritters, similar to bread, possessed a strong sweet coconut taste and texture, with shredded coconut pieces lingering long afterwards. The prawn component was without a doubt my favourite - very much like prawn crackers but even more crisp and with a subtle spiciness. The sweet peanutty sauce that slathered the entire salad gradually became too much and as a result, I couldn’t get enough of the shredded cucumber, which helped cut through the sweetness. If your palate is quite sensitive to strong flavours, the Rojak would be more enjoyable as a shared entree rather than a main dish.
Spotted: this humunga dunga cone of roti. To order for next time? Definitely.
Scores of people have mentioned the greatness of Mamak’s roti. After trying it myself, I can’t help but also jump on that bandwagon. If not for anything else, the roti alone is worth a revisit (or two) to Mamak. I wouldn’t even mind waiting in line because it’s that good!
366 Lonsdale St,
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.
(03) 9670 3137