I wonder how Zam Zam felt when it happened. After all, there are only a couple of mamak style places in the city and where does Mamak from Sydney decide to build its first Melbourne outlet but right next door in the shop vacated by JB Hi Fi. Alamak, could they have picked a worse location? Zam Zam has stuck around though and I for one am glad, because while it’s nothing fancy, it does have some of that authentic casual mamak vibe to it.
You can order from the different curries sitting in the bain maries but we were after breadier fare, roti and murtabak. The varieties of these are legion and listed on the big board behind the counter. Ms Counting her Calories will undoubtedly be pleased to know they include roti tissue and roti bom, but we decided to save our sweet tooths (teeth?) for the ice kachang and cendol. First up though, the roti with egg and lamb murtabak.
Both of these are stuffed varieties of bread, the roti lightly with fried egg, the murtabak heavily with meat and a little vegetable. Served with daal and curry dipping sauces, these are some of my favourite snacks when in Malaysia. How did those at Zam Zam stack up?
It’s fair to say they held their own, especially the roti. Thin pieces of bread folded over an egg and then fried on the grill, while this could have been a little fluffier for soaking up the curry it was tasty and filling. The murtabak is a much thicker and heavier version of grilled bread, and for lack of a better description kind of like an oversized Indian toasty in texture. The filling is slightly spicy, but not too much so for even an acknowledged chilli wimp like Snooze.
What did let the team down a little though were the desserts. Both looked mediocre when they came out, and both certainly tasted that way. The main issue, for the price they were very too much shaved ice and not enough fruit or flavour. While a friendly staff member offered more syrup to boost the flavour of the cendol, it was a bit of a case of too little too late. Next time I’d definitely stick to the sweet rotis.
Friendly staff and there's something about the atmosphere I like, but definitely a bit hit or miss with the food. I’d be interested in giving the curries a bit of a whirl as well, just to see what they are like. Oh, the teh tarik (stretched tea) was good, to the extent that even Snooze asked for a second cup.
Food – 6.5
Service – 7
Ambience – 7
Price – 7
362 Lonsdale Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: (03) 9606 0109