Thursday, August 14, 2014

Mamak, Haymarket (NSW) by Big Fil

I've been to Mamak in Melbourne a few times, and while I've liked it I can't say I've loved it.  I've ordered a few of my favourite things, nasi lemak, roti chanai, roti tissue, tea tarik, and while Mamak does respectable versions of these dishes and drinks I had always thought there were better versions available.  There seems to be some divergence in views about the Melbourne restaurant at least, and I was curious to try the original in Sydney, to see if I could understand just why so many happy customers have raved about this place.   

Located in Sydney's Chinatown, Mamak is very popular with a queue of hungry diners always seeming to be waiting patiently outside for a table to free up.  Unless you get there early you'll almost certainly need to wait for a table and arriving around 7.30 meant waits of around 30 minutes both times I visited.  This does have one good point though, in that you can watch the team in action preparing the orders they have already received. 

Once inside it is noisy and bustling without being too hard to hear yourself think, or to carry on a conversation with your dining companions.  Fun rather than formal dining.

I will admit to being a bit picky about Malaysian food.  When I have previously visited Mamak I have generally stuck to my favourite things, and in particular the nasi lemak and the roti chanai.  Keeping to a familiar pattern that’s what I ordered on my first visit here, with mixed success.  The roti chanai looked good on the plate, crispy and flaky and the accompanying dips and sambal were pretty good (with the sambal packing some heat).  Unfortunately though the roti, rather than being nice and fluffy all the way through, was still somewhat doughy in the middle.

The nasi lemak (rice cooked with coconut milk) was better, the ikan bilis fresh and crispy, the sambal nice and spicy.  The rice was fragrant and the fried chicken (ayam goreng) was reasonably moist if slightly more cooked than I prefer.  All in all a pretty good nasi lemak without anything about it that really stood out.

Fortunately on a return visit the following night enabled me to order a few dishes I don't usually order, and which I enjoyed quite a lot.  The roti telur, a flat roti filled with egg, was deliciously light and tasty, with the addition of the egg going very well with the accompanying sauces.

Surprising best dish of the visit though was the mee goreng, fried noodles.  With egg, prawns, sliced fish cake and other assorted goodies, on the downside it was a little lacking in wok hei but when accompanied by a squeeze of lime it had a deliciously fresh and tangy flavour.  Unexpectedly good.

Having had the chance to try both the Melbourne and Sydney outlets, I did enjoy the food more in Sydney.  Whether it's because of sampling different dishes or the Sydney outlet is better generally I can't say.  Overall, It's fair to say I enjoyed my visit here without being overwhelmed.

Food - 8
Service - 7
Ambience - 6.5
Price - 7

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

Mamak on Urbanspoon

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