Mamak is the Sydney sensation now in Melbourne giving us Malaysian cuisine with flair and style and winning The Age Good Food Under $30 award for best cheap eat restaurant. This is not 3 hat dining but Mamak hits the mark in delivering quick, satisfying cuisine in a modern restaurant near Hardware Lane. Strip away the hype and Mamak is an enjoyable experience whether dining alone or with friends.
Every Malaysian friend I've had has been passionate about food. It seems part of the culture. I'm so glad this passion could be shared with Melbourne via Mamak. Mamak exudes a passion and an authenticity, claiming the cuisine is as authentic as on the streets of Kuala Lumpur. I've never been on the streets of KL, only in the airport overnight, but I was impressed by the quality of the food at Mamak.
I walked in one lunchtime to discover a packed noisy restaurant. There was plenty of action, probably like the streets of KL. Business people, students, couples, and a mix of nationalities were here enjoying Mamak. Very Melbourne. It was the kind of place you wanted to be - with an attractive ambience. The warmth of the conversation was nearly matched by the restaurant fit out - with large food and street scene photos mounted on the warm coloured walls.
An open kitchen added to the action - in fact there seemed to be two preparation areas. Busy wait staff were run off their feet but showed good poise under pressure.
Mamak are famous for their roti dishes (masters of Roti), great satay, Malaysian style fried chicken, classics like Mee Goreng and Nasi Lemak, and killer curries. This is a comprehensive menu with street food hawker kind of cuisine.
Asking the waitress what to order I was recommended the Kari Ayam Chicken curry. Sounded simple. But I was delighted with the dish that followed. So glad it had a fair amount of kick from the freshly ground spices. Spicy bold flavours (so cool because some places water it down for Aussie palates). To me it seemed like a rendang syle and there were decent portions of tasty perfectly cooked and marinated chicken in the curry sauce. As well as chunks of potato. This baby had some heat... Which is why Mamak is authentic - staying true to how it should be.
Full marks also for the decent portion of quality rice to accompany.
Mamak have lunch specials which is a great thing value wise, but also they are geared for quick service even in a packed restaurant.
I noticed the authentic Malaysian drinks available and will try one next time.
Mamak is an enjoyable Malaysian experience in the Melbourne CBD and is a great addition to this city.