It’s a shame that quality Malaysian food is so underrepresented at the moment in the diverse world of Sydney food offerings. I fell in love with Malaysian food in …..Malaysia lol. When I was younger I did a 6 week stint travelling through Malaysia/Singapore and even now, I drool at the mention of the food we had there:) Yes, it was a culture shock – I had never before left Australia. Beverages served in sandwich bags with straws, eating on the roadside and a sad, sad tummy for the first two weeks were some of the many things that greeted my arrival into Malaysia… But soon after my tummy grew a spine, I was able to enjoy the tasty food that was on offer and as a result, I’m so appreciative of authentic Malaysian food when I find it in Sydney.
Living in the inner west, my closest Asian food hub is actually Chinatown and when it comes to Malaysian cuisine, my joint of choice is now Mamak.
Chocolate Queen, Daisy Moo, Herr Moutarde and I love this place for dinner but braving the line can be tough – sometimes we’re lucky (10min), but others we’re not (~45min):( I suggest getting there early or hoping you arrive at a changeover period. Otherwise get there at suppertime:)
Teh Tarik is the traditional tea served with condensed milk, while the Milo Ais is iced milo:) Mamak is set up with open kitchen at the front that can be viewed from the street, so as we we wait in line, I usually watching the clever roti maker and also the drink maker – who “pulls” the Teh Tarik with far more patience than I would lol. Both drinks were delicious.
Clockwise from top right: Teh Ais (Ice Tea), Limau Ais (Lime syrup with ice and water), The “O” Ais Limau (Ice tea with lime)
The first time I had Nasi Lemak in Malaysia, it came packaged, wrapped up in a banana leaf and attached with string to a plastic spoon. The version here is also served with a little piece of a banana leaf, but not enough to act as complete packaging lol. Overall I was satisfied with this dish; it came with all required ingredients (coconut rice, fried anchovies, peanuts, cucumbers, sambal and the egg) but I must admit it was lacking in a little flavour, and I felt they were a bit stingy with the side ingredients, maybe they were running out?? They usually give out more, as witnessed by another Mamak encounter by the guys at HereComesTheFood. Not that it was a tragedy, we still enjoyed it:)
One of the things I adore in Malaysian cuisine is the liberal use of peanuts, and with rojak, there is an abundance of this lovely sweet and tangy peanut sauce (not the same as the satay sauce however) – its’ sooo good! The Mamak version of this salad comprises of this other peanut sauce with fried tofu cubes, sliced cucumber and jicama, some prawn fritters and of course, half a boiled egg. It was delicious, with the combination of flavours and textures working together to produce a gorgeous dish I could have eaten All By Myself lol. In Malaysia we also had versions which included fruit like Mango and Pineapple.
We found no fault with these hot crispy pieces of chicken, they were fantastic. Firstly the pieces were Huge, not to mention piping hot. The chicken was tender and moist on the inside with the most crunchy, slightly spiced outer. I was quite impressed at how un-oily they were, deep fried and drained to perfection:)
I haven’t tried every single thing on the menu yet, but this is my favourite dish by far (so far). The sambal is simply gorgeous:) Warning however, it’s fiery, in that addictive/burning your mouth kind of way. It’s devilishly spicy, with a hint of lime and goes beautifully with the fresh meaty prawns.
Plain roti served with 2 curries and sambal:) Of the two curries, I prefer the milder one, which is sweeter (bottom right). The darker curry is much saltier with a hint of fish. The roti was delicious – crispy on the outside and light and airy inside.
Daisy Moo’s favourite when we were overseas which means she now consistently orders it now lol, This roti is layered with “Planta”, which in Malaysia, is the dominant margarine brand, made by Unilever (who make our Flora). Unlike what it would sound like, the roti isn’t usually too greasy, I don’t think there’s actually that much of it in there, with the extra fat simply adding a touch to the mouthfeel and bit more flavour:) That being said, the last few times we’ve been there, it has been a little on the oilier side (shimmering oily…). I’m still trying to deduce which of the numerous roti makers is the heavy handed one…
Herr Moutarde’s standard choice. We find this roti quite variable. Sometimes it’s much too dense, with an overpowering layer of thick egg, which I find not so satisfying, but at other times it’s lovely, with thin eggy layers interspersed with light layers of roti. The first time ChocolateQueen ordered this she was quite disappointed. Try your luck I guess?
The pretty dessert roti:D This roti is thin and crispy, with a layer of sugar syrup used to set it into it’s distinctive cone shape, served here with ice cream. Two words: Crunchy, Sweet. Interestingly they provide forks for this but I find these a bit ineffective lol.
Cendol is a mixture of starchy, pandan flavoured noodles served with coconut milk and palm sugar syrup. At Mamak they serve this with shaved ice. The flavour was lovely; I really enjoy coconut flavoured desserts, and the sugar syrup was sticky and rich:)
We’ve only managed to have dessert here once (usually too full from dinner), and our enjoyment of the desserts with shaved ice was extremely hindered by the fact that most of the ice shavings were melted by the time they got to the table:( In this case, it made for a very watery cendol soon after serving as the remaining ice rapidly melted. Otherwise, as said before, the flavour is authentic and quite enjoyable.
Another popular Malaysian dessert, which consists of various toppings laden atop condensed milk drenched shaved ice. The Mamak version has red beans, grass jelly cubes, a pink syrup and creamed corn.
Again, the same problem as the cendol – lack of ice shavings, excess water…flavour dilution…
So the desserts (apart from the dessert roti) may not be the best this place has to offer, but I think the rest of the menu more than makes up for it:)
If you haven’t tried Malaysian cuisine ever, Mamak is a great place to start. I’m a regular visitor and always leave a satisfied customer. I must add that the staff are great (not always the case in Chinatown) and the interior is comfortable and not too budget/cramped but beware – you will most likely face that queue to get in, but please, don’t be deterred:)
15 Goulburn St
Phone: (02) 9211 1668