Mamak

15 Goulburn Street

 www.mamak.com.au

 I’ve walked past this place a few times and there’s always a huge queue to get in, which of course makes it irresistible to try. An early dinner presented itself and arriving at about 6.15pm, we only had to wait 15 minutes…

 Sydney week2.5 010

It’s the editors pick for Best Asian in the SMH relying on good cheap, flavourful Malaysian street food. While I’m sure there are lots of places on a similar level to this place, these sort of restaurants generate a momentum and interest which they ride all the way to the bank. Good value food which encourages spending with a high turnover.

For the wait they helpfully provide a bit of theatre in the window – two chefs constantly churning out Rotis – flat bread creations which can be eaten as they are or filled with all sorts of ingredients.

It’s a kind of house specialty, so I helpfully over-ordered  when we got our table (Canai, Bawang, Murtabak).

 Sydney week2.5 008

Sydney week2.5 009

They’re good though. The spicy curry accompaniments pretty much all tasted the same. But the Roti were fluffy, crisp and tasty, especially the ‘daddy’ version with minced lamb.

 Sydney week2.5 005

The Satay were also rated, so we tried half a dozen. It was opposite to the Roti experience. The chicken was grilled well, but not the tastiest of morsels. However the peanut sauce was lovely. The sort of sauce you’d be happy to eat anything with. It more than made up for it.

Like many of these places, the dish arrives at the table when ready, so we had two curry dishes mixed in with the rotis and satays. These were a chicken curry (Kari ayam) and a stir fried prawns with sambal sauce (Sambal udang). Incidentally there is Malaysian fried chicken on the menu, but I couldn’t convince my other dining companions to take the plunge. The spectre of KFC still looms large…

 

Sambal udang

Sambal udang

Kari Ayam

Kari Ayam

The curries were extremely tasty – good generous portions with plenty of heat. The Kari ayam was noticeable for the dark & foreboding appearance. Just like that all pervasive cloak of evil from the Fifth Element, you got the impression it would coat & transform everything it touched into something indulgent and rich. The rice of course countered with its innocent purity.

Moving away from the eternal battle of good and evil, this is indeed a decent place for a casual bite to eat in the city. It’s easy to see why it’s popular as something a little bit different from the plethora of Thai places. The spicing is interesting, it’s got a buzz and it’s cheap at under $25 a head. A perfect midweek stop, when you’re counting the pennies.

Someone’s done their homework with this venture. It is a calculated offering and none the worse for it. Find a niche with a particular regional street food. Do it well and then roll out the concept.

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