April 18th, 2008

Does My Bomb Look Big In This?

Review - Mamak (UPDATED)

This little restaurant made me happy. You see, as a child of about six, I lived in Malaysia for nearly six months. So dishes like Roti Canai remind me of childhood visits to restaurants with segmented metal plates. (Incidentally, if anyone knows where to get these here, I want some desperately - they are the ultimate TV dinner plates, where the segments stop things from mixing, perfect for your obsessive compulsive diner.)

So anyway, we're in Haymarket, and I have been dreaming about dining at Mamak ever since I heard about it. And we're looking for food, and see a queue of twenty people outside the door, with only five minutes until they open. Thus fate has spoken, we join the throng, and jostle gently for one of the first tables.



It's arguably the ONLY place you can enjoy really authentic Malaysian cuisine in Sydney - as such this small restaurant is a must-do experience. What’s even better, it can be had for a totally bargain price! In the drawback department, anything this good is bound to have been discovered by others, so like I mentioned above, expect a queue.

The fiery pleasure of the Sambal Udang ($14) or Sambal Tiger Prawns is worth sweating for. If you prefer your heat a little more evenly balanced, try the Nasi Lemak ($6.50) – a combination plate of sambal, peanuts with the skin on, crisp anchovies, freshly cut cucumber and hard boiled egg - to which you can add Sambal Prawns ($4), a variety of curries including a vegetarian one ($3) or fried chicken ($3) for a complete meal.



Whilst it’s hard to not revel in the simplicity of the fluffy yet crisp Roti Canai ($5) served with two curry dips, and a sambal sauce; I also enjoyed the contrast of the Roti Kaya ($6.50) enhanced with a pandan and coconut spread, and served with either curry dips or ice-cream.



I only wish I had more room - I wanted to eat the Fried Chicken ($10/ 4 pieces or $3 per piece), Satay ($6 for 6, or $10 for 12) and... Yep, I pretty much wanted to try the whole menu. They also have bizarre desserts like Ais Kacang ($5) which is a concoction of red beans, corn, grass-jelly, rose syrup, and sweetened milk on a mountain of shaved ice. Pretty weird but I'm game on our next visit!

Edit 18/04:

I went back to Mamak again the other night, and it didn't quite live up to the wonder of the first visit. Perhaps their food is a little variable. However I did enjoy the mixed dozen of Satays ($14 / dozen) for the charcoal edges on the chicken ones. The beef were a little underdone (and chewy) for my taste, but the accompanying cucumber and Spanish onion were fresh and delightful.



I found the Rojak ($10) a Malaysian style salad quite interesting. It was a bed of shredded yambean and cucumber topped with prawn and coconut fritters and fried tofu, and finished with a thick and mildly spicy peanut sauce and a boiled egg.



In the roti stakes, this time we tried the Roti Bawang ($6) which is filled with lashing of sweet red onions. It was very good.



When roti call, I think that despite the slight drop in quality, I will still be back.

Mamak
15 Goulburn Street, Sydney
Ph: (02) 9211 1668

Mamak on Urbanspoon
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