Thursday, August 4, 2011
This month, I’ve been chosen as a Blog Ambassador for Malaysia Kitchen, with the task of eating my way around Sydney’s Malaysian food scene. It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it! While I am not Malaysian, and I’ve never visited the country, I am absolutely in love with the food and culture thanks to the influences of two of my best friends, Steph and Karen.
With queues out the door and down the street at almost any time of day at their city outpost on Goulbourn St, lining up is just part of the Mamak experience. Arguably one of Sydney’s most popular Malaysian restaurants, the menu is filled with hawker style street food, but their main drawcard is the freshly made roti. Waiting in line doesn’t seem so bad when you can watch the chefs in the kitchen preparing roti. It’s truly a mesmerising process.
We decided to avoid the hordes and visit their Chatswood restaurant, which opened late last year. The premises are bigger, but on weekends there are still lines of people waiting outside. We decide to try some old favourites but also go for some dishes that we don’t order often, and some that I’d never tried before.
Malaysian drinks are something quite special. Teh tarik ($3.50) is a “pulled” milk tea, made with sweetened condensed milk that is delicious hot or iced. It’s fascinating to watch them making it – long streams of tea are poured (or pulled) from one container to another to make the frothy topping. I decided to try the Kopi ‘O’ ais ($3.50) black iced coffee, which was super strong with just the right amount of sweetness for me, I loved it. Steph decided to have the Teh ‘O’ ais limau ($3.50) iced tea with a splash of lime, which is delicious and refreshing.
You just can’t come to Mamak without trying the roti. I can never go past the Roti Canai ($5.50), which is served as a ball - crispy on the outside yet fluffy on the inside. It is served with two curry dips and a spicy sambal sauce. It arrives mere minutes after we place our order, a testament to the super swift service.
Another must try dish is the Satay ($9 for 6, $16 for 12) which is available in chicken and beef and served with a delicious peanut sauce that is a little bit sweet and a little bit spicy. These are cooked in the same way as the hawkers do – grilled over hot charcoal for that delicious smoky flavour. These are so moreish, I could have eaten the whole dish by myself!
Nasi Lemak ($8.50) is one of the most popular dishes in Malaysia. Fragrant coconut rice is accompanied by sambal, peanuts, crispy anchovies (ikan bilis), cucumber and hard-boiled egg. We added chicken and lamb curries to go with it ($3 each) as well as a piece of fried chicken (ayam goreng - $3). I could quite happily eat this every day! I especially loved the lamb curry – the meat was so tender and delicious that it just fell apart. And next time I’m definitely ordering a full portion of the ayam goreng!
We also order the Lamb Murtabak ($11.50). It looks like a thin pancake parcel and is filled with spicy meat, cabbage, egg and onion. At Mamak, they are made to order, with the menu advising there will be a 15 minute wait. It’s a large serving and even between us we can’t finish it! It comes served with the same curry sauces and is also available with a chicken filling.
The Maggi Goreng ($11.50) is a variation of the Mee Goreng using Maggi noodles instead of Hokkien noodles. It’s a spicy little dish, but delicious nonetheless. Prawns, sliced fish cake, cucumber and fresh bean sprouts provide a nice textural contrast.
My surprise favourite was the Rojak ($14) which was a dish I hadn’t tried before. It was presented beautifully, as a colourful tower of prawn and coconut fritters, fried tofu, hard boiled egg, shredded yambean and cucumber, topped with a thick and spicy peanut sauce. It was a nice, refreshing salad, which was a welcome contrast for the spicier dishes we had ordered.
We were insanely full by this point and struggling to find any spare space on the table, but we couldn’t leave without sampling the desserts. One of my favourite (and one of the most popular) Malaysian desserts is Ais Kacang ($6) a sweet and refreshing combination of red beans, corn, grass jelly, rose syrup and sweetened condensed milk on a mountain of shaved ice. The toppings may change depending on where you go, but I loved this. It’s the perfect dessert on a warm night.
Mamak also does a variety of delicious sweet roti desserts, most famously the Roti Tisu, which is paper-thin roti rolled into a tall cone and a favourite of many Sydney food bloggers. I love the Roti Kaya ($7.50) which is filled with a traditional spread made from pandan and coconut. I would have loved a slightly thicker layer of kaya but it was still absolutely delicious.
Steph and I had never tried to Roti bom ($8.50) which is described on the menu as “a truly indulgent roti”. We should have known that our sweet tooth was in for a walloping! It’s so sweet and rich, with a crackly caramelly sugar crust. It is delicious, but it quickly defeats us.
With such great food at such good prices, it’s no wonder that Mamak is still crazily popular after all these years. We have ordered a lot of food, and tried a good portion of the menu, but there’s still many other dishes to try next time. Armed with bags of leftovers, and stomachs full to bursting, we think the hype is well warranted and the queues are here to stay.
Like my post on the Malaysia Kitchen Bloggers Summit website and I could win a trip to Malaysia!! Wouldn't that be awesome? Thanks a million for your support!
Mamak - Shop P9, 1-5 Railway St, Chatswood (02) 9411 4411
AND 15 Goulburn Street, Haymarket, Sydney (02) 9211 1668
Spicyicecream dined as guest of Malaysia Kitchen