Mamak, Melbourne CBD

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’sĀ Teh ā€˜Oā€™ 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

Mamak on Urbanspoon

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21 comments… add one
  • yummychunklet October 14, 2012, 10:00 am

    That roti looks delicious.

  • Maureen | Orgasmic Chef October 14, 2012, 5:01 pm

    This food looks really good. The roti especially but there’s nothing that doesn’t look delicious. However those serving plates look like they came out of an American prison. šŸ™‚

  • Daisy@Nevertoosweet October 14, 2012, 5:33 pm

    Great review Jenny šŸ™‚ Ohh you tried a lot of dishes yay! I’ve been avoiding mamak for such a long time because I hate waiting lol but I’m still interested at trying the ROTI ~ But will lower my expectations if you say it wasn’t as ‘fantastic’ as it has been hyped up to be šŸ˜›

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella October 14, 2012, 6:01 pm

    The food here is so good and you can really see why it has the queues that it does! They never let up! šŸ˜› Well except perhaps on Mondays at 5:30pm-smart girl! šŸ˜‰

  • Libby October 14, 2012, 9:31 pm

    Haha queueing up for two hours? Screw that!

    I agree with you – the non-roti dishes aren’t that fantastic (better nasi lemak and mee goreng can be found elsewhere) but the roti… mmmmmmm.

  • Ames October 14, 2012, 9:47 pm

    lol that’s hardly any sambal!!! We went to the Sydney one when we were last over there which we thought was pretty good – but it may have been helped by the fact that we we were very hungry after waiting in line for so long haha

  • msihua October 14, 2012, 10:44 pm

    Well being Malaysian I would prefer to eat it more often than I do at the moment and I do love sweet and savoury rotis! For example I will only eat roti kaya with curries šŸ™‚ Anyway… I found the food at Mamak a bit hit and miss.. my roti was excellent, murtabak was okay and the Boy’s mee goreng was šŸ™

  • kitchenriffs October 15, 2012, 5:30 am

    Roti is good stuff, isn’t it? I love it, and it sounds like this restaurant is well worth trying. Although I hate it when restaurants become so popular that the wait is forever (or at least it seems like it’s forever).

  • Gourmetgetaways October 15, 2012, 7:59 am

    Great review and such delicious looking images, it is such a shame the restaurant wasn’t all you hoped it would be. I hate queuing for a table :0!

  • Nami | Just One Cookbook October 15, 2012, 4:34 pm

    To answer your question first, no. I wish I could eat Malaysian food often, but it’s not common restaurants around here… I’ve been to two restaurants here which are pretty good, but it’s not in my weekly choices of eat out places. So sad! I love roti… I need at least 2 orders before main dishes come out. It’s too bad the food was okay…. At least you didn’t have to wait 2 hrs. Our regular dinner time (at restaurants – before the crowds) is 5:30. Yeah that became my norm… and 6pm at home. I kind of miss going out late and eat dinner. lol. Great honest review!

  • The Squishy Monster October 15, 2012, 6:27 pm

    I could easily write a love poem for roti but sadly, they only serve it at ONE place in town here. If ever in Sydney, I”ll definitely be coming here!!

  • Christine @ Cooking Crusade October 15, 2012, 10:08 pm

    Beautiful photos – really brings the food of Mamak to life! I’ve only been to Mamak once but definitely enjoyed the rich and crispy roti.. But I don’t think I’d wait two hours for it, no way Jose!

  • ChopinandMysaucepan October 15, 2012, 11:00 pm

    Dear Jenny,

    Looks like the success of Mamak in Sydney is really spreading. My favourite is their smoky chicken satays with that delectable peanut sauce, Maggi mee goreng and the fluffy roti with that tasty and flavoursome curry sauce.

  • Choc Chip Uru October 16, 2012, 7:27 am

    I would love to try Mamak some day this looks delicious šŸ˜€

    Choc Chip Uru

  • Tania @ A Perfect Pantry October 16, 2012, 1:19 pm

    You do find the nicest restaurants… very nice. I so have to try this one out.

  • Baker Street October 16, 2012, 5:34 pm

    Fabulous review, Jen! Everything looks so good! šŸ™‚

  • Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today October 16, 2012, 9:20 pm

    Two hours is a long time to wait. But when it’s worth it, I’d do it as well šŸ™‚ Great recommendation. I have a family in Melbourne and I’ll definitely send this recommendation to them.

  • Parsley Sage October 17, 2012, 9:32 am

    Looks lovely! I don’t think I’ve ever even had Malaysian food…but the Trinidadians here make a mean roti that I ate every Friday for my first year here. Definitely savory roti for me!

  • Ming @ sweetandsourfork October 17, 2012, 9:17 pm

    No sweet rotis? I did quite enjoy their roti kaya, though it was disappointing to see their tall roti tisu served with ice cream and not condensed milk. Have you ever had a sweet roti with curry? It was on offer but I just can’t wrap my head around that!

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake October 17, 2012, 9:33 pm

      I’ve had it at PappaRich and was quite surprised by how tasty it was. My Malaysian friends were huge advocates of sweet roti with curry, saying that’s all they have back in Malaysia. Guess you need to grow up with it to understand such things, but do give it a try. šŸ˜‰

  • choux choux October 21, 2012, 5:30 pm

    I always order the Roti Canai with a piece of deep fried chicken. You should get their deep fried chicken. It’s crisp and juicy ā€“ just perfect šŸ™‚


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