Mamak is one of the most popular restaurants in Sydney and although we walked past the Chinatown store on many occasions during my recent Sydney visit, the huge queue snaking out the door put us all off. My friend told me that his relative once lined up for 2 hours before they opened for dinner which came as a shock. I can’t imagine myself lining up for 2 hours for any restaurant no matter how good it it.
So when Mamak finally migrated down south to open its doors to Melbournian roti fans, I was very eager to give it a try. Although the queues at the moment are borderline bearable, I wouldn’t want to imagine what it would be like a few months down the track.
For those of you who don’t know, Mamak refers to Tamil Muslims in Malaysia who operate Mamak food stores offering casual dining environments with cheap tasty Mamak food such as rotis (flat bread), mee goreng, nasi lemak and other popular dishes. As it is Muslim, no pork or beef is served at Mamak.
Yuye and I were lucky enough to have been offered 2 free movie screenings by Nuffnang last week to Brad Pitt’s new movie Killing Me Softly at Hoyts. As the movie started at 7pm, we decided to have an early dinner at Mamak just as they opened at 5:30pm. It was a Monday evening and there was no queue at all.
I could see that new waiters were still finding their feet but their friendliness and efficiency is commendable.
When you visit Mamak, you can’t go past ordering at least one serving of roti. Although I was quite hungry, we were too ambitious yet again, ordering 2 roti and a rice and noodle dish each. Yuye ordered the roti planta ($6.50) which was a ‘rich buttery roti’. It came with 2 curry sauces, one chill and one mild as well as a tiny drop of sambal.
This roti was quite nice with the outside slightly crunchy and the inside rich and fluffy. It went very well with the curry sauces. I liked the taste of the sambal but did find it to be a bit small. Very small. I would have liked at least triple that amount.
I ordered the Roti telur bawang ($7), an egg and onion roti which is apparently ‘a must for omelette lovers’. However, both Yuye and I were not very taken with this roti as it was a bit soggy and rather bland. I preferred the roti planta by a mile.
Yuye then ordered the nasi lemak ($8.50) which I found quite average. The meat was lamb instead of the usual beef and the rice was a bit coconuty. Yuye said the lamb was quite tender but was only lukewarm.
I also ordered the Mee Goreng ($11.50) which had “spicy wok-tossed hokkien noodles with eggs, prawns, fish cake slices and fresh bean sprouts.” It was quite tasty and very chilli which I liked but it was a little sweeter than the usual mee gorengs I’ve had which I didn’t mind but might not suit everyone.
We both ordered drinks which was a good thing since the chilliness of my noodles really needed some drinks to wash it down. I ordered a hot teh tarik ($3.50), the classic Malaysian sweetened milk tea, but the good thing about this drink was that it actually had froth on the top which most other places don’t have. Although I did find it a bit too sweet.
Yuye’s Teh ‘O’ ais limau ($3.50) – ice tea with a splash of lime – was way too sweet for the both of us, to the point I almost wanted to add cold water to it. But was still reasonably refreshing as it was icy.
I could not finish my portion no matter how much I tried and I ended up taking 1 piece of my roti and almost half of the noodles away to be enjoyed as a late night snack.
I liked Mamak for the tasty roti and overall good meal, although I was just that little bit disappointed at the standard of food given just how popular they are in Sydney. Melbournians might be quite spoilt for choice when it comes to Malaysian food with so many restaurants opening up everywhere. This may have contributed to the low ratings on Urbanspoon and our pickiness for quality. I would go back to Mamak again to try their other dishes and also the sweet roti but not sure I’d be willing to wait in line for a table.
As you can see, when we arrived at 5:30pm, there were not many patrons but by the time we left at around 6:20pm, the restaurant has almost filled. This was a Monday night! I wouldn’t want to be lining up at that hour on a Friday night…
Question time: Do you eat Malaysian food often? Do you like sweet or savoury roti more?
Phone: (03) 9670 3137
366 Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC 3000