“I’d be so depressed if I owned the restaurant right next to Mamak,” I said. Yep, I’m quoting myself.
I heard that in Chatswood on the less bustling side, Mamak had opened a branch and since we went bowling for a friend’s farewell nearby, we decided to check this place out. It wasn’t too hard to find; situated next to the station, the smell of roti and curries drifts towards people passing by. Even though it was a Sunday, there was still a line outside (whilst the restaurant next door only had two full tables of people) and we waited about 10 minutes for a table of four.
Extremely busy inside, all the tables are quite close to each other. We were served shortly by a guy with a Malaysian accent, so you know that there is a degree of Malaysian authenticity here! Strangely enough though, their choice of music is top 40 pop music. Regardless, the food speaks for itself and was served to us with very little wait time.
Maggi Goreng; a mee goreng variation using Maggi noodles – $11.50
A play on the famous mi goreng (the staple food of uni students everywhere), this version uses instant (maggi) noodles instead of the traditional hokkien noodles. Personally, I like instant noodles and even prefer eating the 50c packets instead of ordering the real thing (one of the few times where the fast food alternative tastes better). For this dish, I found the noodles lacked flavour, however it was enveloped with an assortment of vegetables and meat which compensated for that. The dash of lime reminded me of pad thai.
Rojak; a Malaysian-style salad. Prawn and coconut fritters, fried tofu, hard-boiled eggs, freshly shredded yambean and cucumber topped with a thick spicy peanut sauce – $14
This dish is a cold crunchy salad served with peanut sauce. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems almost identical to Gado Gado (an Indonesian peanut-sauce based cold salad) and you could also call it the Malaysian version of nachos. The chips are extremely crispy yet soft when there is sauce on it and goes well with the egg. The cucumber is also very refreshing; a standout dish!
Kangkung Belacan; stir-fried water spinach with chillies and shrimp paste – $14
Since Temasek ran out of spinach the last time we went there, we still wished to try this dish. My friend had a sore throat so we requested them to reduce the chilli content. If they did it wasn’t apparent; the spinach was extremely spicy and destroyed my taste buds. It also seemed a bit tough (old perhaps?) and had a strong shrimp paste flavour. Not something I enjoyed too much, but make sure you can take chilli or else you will be in for a nasty surprise.
Beef Satay – $9 for 1/2 dozen, $16 for a dozen
Satay skewers is usually something which is a sure safe and delicious dish! But I was utterly disappointed this time. The beef on the skewer was quite…plain…and seemed undermarinated. The sauce was spicier than normal and nowhere near as nutty as a lot of satay sauces. The cucumber was once again delicious and refreshing (how sad I’m enjoying the raw vegetables).
Kari Ayam; curry chicken cooked with ground spices and chunky potatoes – $16
The classic Malaysian curry chicken! Soft chicken pieces served on the bone accompanied with potatoes, the sauce is rich and spicy and is what everyone goes on about here. Best eaten with either roti or rice, otherwise it might be flavour overdose!
Roti telur bawang; egg and onions – $7
This dish is a plate roti (fried bread) enveloped with crispy onions and served with a side of sambal (chilli sauce) and two curry sauces. The plate reminds me of the metal canteen/food hall type plates. The onions brings out the flavour of the bread and serves as a good starter to the night. Curry sauces are rich and mildly spicy.
Roti kaya; filled with a traditional spread made from pandan and coconut – $7.50
As a dessert, it may seem strange to eat bread, but this roti has been filled with sweet coconut. To be honest, it tastes nothing like coconut but tastes like custard instead…which is an excellent thing because custard is delicious! The dough is a bit plain but is quickly offset by the sweetness from the side of vanilla ice cream. A sweet, hot and cold dessert, delicious ending for the night.
Overall, I have mixed feelings about Mamak. As a very popular restaurant for Malaysian food, they do their roti and curries well but a shame that they don’t do good satay (and that their menu isn’t that expansive – where’s the hainan chicken!). I would go again for their desserts but otherwise I feel Mamak is slightly overhyped as it is a good restaurant but not the best, yet still manages to boasts such lines. Not recommended for those who cannot take chilli as you may not be tasting anything for the next couple of days.