Mamak Melbourne Review
Mamak came with much fanfare. A popular Malaysian food haunt in Sydney, it has also received praise in The Age Cheap Eats Guide and positive reviews. We had to check it out when it first opened and knowing how long the queues normally are, we set foot by 11.30am just before the lunch time crowd on a Saturday.
Service was cheerful and efficient.
One of the things we ordered was Indian Rojak. Different from the rojak with pineapples, mung kwang and the dark pungent aroma of hae gor, Indian Rojak originated from Singapore. It is normally filled with all manner of deep-fried dough, potato, tau hu, cuttlefish or any selection you make from the hawker's assortment of displayed goodies. After which, you'll be served with a dipping sauce of peanut, chilli and gravy-like origins.
At Mamak, the Indian Rojak received a more refined twist. Shredded cucumber, radish, half an egg and some fried doughy concoction was served up with a peanut, chilli and gravy-like sauce that is not unpleasant, but like the whole ensemble, a very mild and distant cousin to the authentic Indian Rojak.
Now the Roti Prata/Chanai is another story. Having been to several Malaysian outlets, we have been disappointed time and again by the lack of proper authentic Singapore-style Roti Prata. Sorry Malaysians, but the chewy, yeasty and stretchy prata I am used to in Singapore differs quite a bit to the ones we've found here and in Malaysia.
Expecting prata of Pappa Rich standard, we ordered a Plain (Kosong) Prata. However unlike Pappa Rich, Mamak really triumphed in making a prata that is stretchy, yeasty, crunchy and doughy at the same time. It came with 2 varieties of curries and some sambal chilli. For $5.50, it is well worth it with condiments. However, the servings for the curries were too generous for just one Prata and there were no options for ordering an extra prata. The people living in Malaysia and Singapore may snigger, but it would be reasonable if they offer the option of ordering extra Prata for $2-$3 without the curries. As is $5.50 for extra prata is steep.
The Satays were passably good. But texturally it felt like Coles Kebabs rather than the sliced and skewered authentic Malay satays. The satay sauce was similiar to the Indian Rojak sauce with a slight difference in spices. Marinade was good and meat was tender.
We have had their Nasi Lemak on different occasions. While the coconut/pandan rice, sambal, peanut/anchovies and cucumber combo make up the basic components ($8.50 or $8.90), you can then "pimp" up your Nasi with options. The fried chicken is an amazing contradiction in crunchy batter yet tender juicy flavoursome chicken inside. I am still trying to figure how the batter itself is soft yet crunchy at the same time. You can add as many as you like to your Nasi. At $3 it is certainly affordable. It is not shown here, but we also had the sambal cuttlefish. Nope, not sotong, it's actual jiu heer. The sambal is probably just slightly too sweet with more of sambal than cuttlefish ($4).
I think Mamak's signature and specialty of Pratas in their variations are the big drawcards to this place. They have the formula right in terms of the dough and their cooking techniques.
The Roti Tissue ($9.90) is a thin crispy-buttery-sugary cone of addiction. It is served with ice-cream although it really can do without. The Roti Tissue is so crispy you pull off shards, close your eyes and enjoy!
P.S: You don't want to share...
And a satisfying Teh Tarik at the end of any meal.