Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Review: Mamak, Haymarket

This visit to Mamak must have been my fourth, but only the second time since its renovation and expansion. My first visit had left an extremely good impression on my taste buds and so when WX suggested, or rather wholeheartedly demanded, that we pay a visit to the Malaysian restaurant, I was only too happy to oblige. Since the capacity of the restaurant had increased two-fold, I was happy to say that although the queue was long, we managed to get inside within 30 minutes. A word of caution however, to those sneaky diners out there, the queue for this restaurant does not get any shorter as time passes, especially on Friday and Saturday nights when it opens till 2am in the morning for supper and dessert. But rest assured, even in the long long line, you can stand outside and be mesmerised by the skill of the roti-making chefs!

For those of you who have never dined here before, or have not visited since its expansion, you’ll immediately notice the dramatic change that the restaurant has undergone. The new d├ęcor expressed through the bright red walls accompanied by beautiful black and white photography as well as the well lit and more spacious seating area contributed to a great atmosphere to ease me into the mood for eating. That was already box number one checked off on my list for the evening!

is well known for its authentic Malaysian cuisine, most notably the roti varieties available both in sweet and savoury. Naturally, the first thing that WX’s eyes darted towards was that section of the menu. After a short period of time where all five of us simultaneously salivated and pored over our menus, we came to a quick decision of sharing six dishes. First up, a serving of Roti Canai and Roti Telur Bewang each with two varieties of curry and a spicy sambal sauce.

Roti Telur Bewang $6.50

Roti Canai $5

Not being much of a curry fan (and I know WX would strongly oppose me on this point), I hugely favoured the sambal sauce as a dip for both the roti variations. The slightly crispy exterior with a fluffy, soft inner was just an amazing little combination in my mouth, flaring up with the spicy sauce. With the added omelette-like combination of egg and onions in the Roti Telur Bewang, these two dishes served to be the most blissful and left me with no complaints whatsoever. I love good food, I love different foods and cuisines...but most of all I love all of the above served on a platter which leaves barely a dent on your wallet!

Beef Satay Sticks $14 for a dozen ($8 for 1/2 dozen, also available in Chicken)

Eating as a group of five, beef satay sticks by the dozen, was a must on the agenda. The sticks had been lightly charcoal grilled and served with a sweet and spicy peanut sauce. So what was my quick and dirty verdict? Nothing special. When you order something as common as satay sticks, the expectations are hitched up a couple more bars and both WX and I agree that these were really not that awesome. The beef itself was a tad overcooked which left us struggling to tear the chunks of meat off the stick - almost impossible to remain civilised.

Ayam Berempah $15

Next on our agenda was the Ayam Berempah. Just looking at it made my mouth water! Although the description of the dish was ‘bite-sized chicken’, I hardly felt that that was accurate. Having said that, I’m not one to complain that each time I picked up a piece of the stir-fried chicken, I could get in several bites. Cooked with mildly hot whole spices, the sensation left in my mouth was nicely melding in with the lasting flavour of the sambal sauce I had with the roti! Yum yum yummmmmm!

Nasi Lemak $7.50

The final two dishes on our main order was the Nasi Lemak and the Nasi Goreng. Both being rice dishes, the frequency of my hands subconsciously moving to get an extra helping of the Nasi Goreng was enough to convince my brain which tasted better. It's always interesting to see how your tastebuds talk to the rest of your body - or rather, control it. Although the variety of 'side dishes' surrounding our mound of coconut rice was both interesting and delicious – including an ensemble of peanuts, crispy anchovies, diced cucumber, sambal and half a hard boiled egg – it didn’t pitch quite as well as the well seasoned dish of Nasi Goreng. That’s not to say that both dishes weren’t extremely scrumptious but I had my little internal battle of choice – that’s all.

By this stage, everyone seemed relatively satisfied with the amount which filled their stomachs but to be honest, my quick metabolism was urging me on to continue the movement of my mouth. This desperate call was duly answered, perhaps overly so (especially considering out planned Sugar Hit after dinner), by our order of a sweet roti, Roti Tisu and our resident Malaysian, JC’s recommendation of Cendol. The Roti Tisu can be likened to a cone made from a sugar coated crispy crepe, which was served with vanilla ice-cream and (we later also begged for…) condensed milk. I’ve tried this once before, and have accepted the fact that it’s not a dessert to be consumed by one or two people…it really exemplifies the concept that ‘sharing is caring’. The only down side with this sugar delight this time round, was the base had gotten a bit soggy which left some of us chewing towards the end.

Roti Tisu $9

On the other end of the spectrum, the Cendol was an icy and refreshing bowl of pandan noodles, gula-meluka syrup and coconut milk. Not too sweet or filling, it was a perfect way to end the meal (in preparation for our Sugar Hit!)

Cendol $5

There is no doubt that Mamak will become one of my frequent haunts in town, especially on those late nights when all you want to do is sit somewhere and eat your heart away after a long day of walking around in the Sydney CBD. I know that WX and JL are already planning to make their second visit very soon – let’s hope they don’t mind me chiming in!

15 Goulburn Street
Haymarket Sydney 2000
Tel: (02) 9211 1668

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