Monday, 25 August 2008

mamak

As published in 3DWorld Magazine

15 Goulburn St
Haymarket NSW 2000
Phone (02) 9211 1668
Fax (02) 9211 1669

There are certain foods that make you nostalgic about your childhood. It might be devon sandwiches, your nan's lamb roast but for me it’s the Singaporean and Malaysian food my mum used to cook, especially when the relos would come over. is the kind of place that will have Malaysian and Singaporean ex-pats having flashbacks about their local hawker centre eating satay in 40-degree weather.

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At 8.00pm on a Saturday night, the line for Mamak reaches out the door, and around the corner onto Goulburn Street, with everyone craning for a view of the open kitchen where the Mamak boys skilfully tease roti pastry into flaky, buttery carbolicious pancakes. It's all you can do really, to distract oneself whilst waiting.

Once seated, the menu reads like a who's who of star Malaysian dishes; Roti Chanai, Kari Ayam and if you don't know those, then you definitely know Satay.

These aren't the tough, charred kind you find at a backyard barbeque, but exceptionally tender, marinated chicken or beef, expertly grilled for maximum smoky flavour. Douse generously with satay sauce; a peanut allergic patient's nightmare...and boy is it delicious.

nasi lemak

Nasi Lemak is a traditional Malaysian breakfast dish: rice, a boiled egg, roasted peanuts, crispy fried anchovies, chilli sambal and some form of dry curry. You are allowed to have it, however at other times of the day and we had ours with tender lamb curry. You can mix and match by adding other popular dishes like fried chicken and sambal prawns.

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Roti. It ain’t good for the waistline but it's so good for the soul. The deliciously buttery pastry comes with a variety of sweet and savoury options but Roti Chenai is a great way to experience it. Rip a piece of roti and dip it into one of the two curry sauces served in a traditional segmented metal plate.

fish curry

If you're into curry, look no further than Kari Ikan. It just means 'fish curry' in Malay, but speaks volumes in your mouth. A mildly spicy curry with chunks of perfectly poached fish, okra and eggplant. It tastes of the sea without being to, uh, fishy.

ice kacang

Don't leave without sampling the desert menu. Given how hot it gets in that part of the world, a lot of deserts are made from shaved ice and different flavourings. A popular desert is Ice Kacang; shaved ice dressed with creamy coconut milk, rose syrup and various other toppings such as red beans, jellys and ...creamed corn. Give it a try. It sounds a little strange but you'll thank yourself for it.

With the average dish costing around $10, Mamak is a great place to sample plenty of authentic Malaysian dishes without breaking the budget. Just make sure you get there early or be prepared to wait. It's worth it.

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