Teh ais $3
Iced milk tea
Mamak is a cheerful splash of red on Goulburn Street, a slick and stylish eatery that is filled with Malaysian students on a Saturday night in Sydney. Mamak refers to the cuisine of the Tamil Muslims of Malaysia, whose 24-hour snack stalls usually include flaky rounds of roti, meat-filled murtabak, nasi lemak and mee goreng.
Kari ikan $12.00
Tangy fish curry cooked with fresh tomatoes, okra and eggplant
There are no bookings taken here, but our group of eight manage to grab a table just after 6pm. Throughout the evening we note the constant queue of people out the door.
The staff are all smartly dressed in black t-shirts and pants; the wooden tables are shiny with laquer. It's a happy bustle of people tonight, groups of students, clusters of friends and the occasional family sharing a meal, the children meekly perching on the edge of their stool.
Our drinks mainly comprise of teh tariks, the Malaysian sweet tea aerated by pouring from a great height from glass to glass. I order the teh halia ($3.00) which promises a hint of ginger. It's refreshing and sweet although I wish the ginger had a bit more kick.
Kari ikan fish curry arrives in a generous-sized portion that is instantly aromatic. Chunks of fish are soft and tender, the curry is sweet, salty and a tad sour. The thick tangy sauce is delicious on rice ($2 per person).
Sambal udang $14
Stir-fried tiger prawns with fiery sambal sauce
The sambal udang prawns look a little naked on the plate (a bit of greenery required perhaps?) but they are reasonably plump and smothered in sambal. The sambal is more a warm hum than the promised fire, but I take delight in scraping the remainder of the sauce on my rice regardless.
Sambal sotong $14.00
Stir-fried calamari with fiery sambal sauce
We also order the sambal sotong, strips of calamari that are surpisingly crunchy, as if they'd been dried and rehydrated.
Beef and chicken satay sticks $10.00
The satay sticks are swooped on by the crowd, thin strips of beef and chicken cooked over charcoal until caramelised and smoky. It arrives with chunks of cucumber and red onion as well as a deep bowl of satay sauce.
Nasi lemak with fried chicken $9.50
Coconut rice with sambal, peanuts, crispy anchovies,
cucumber, boiled egg and fried chicken
Nasi lemak as a prettily plated ensemble of coconut rice, fried chicken, boiled egg, anchovies and dry fried peanuts.
Kangkung belecan $10.00
Stir-fried water spinach with chillies and shrimp paste
We order both versions of the belecan, one with kangkung water spinach, the other with kacang panjang snake beans. Both make use of belecan, a fermented shrimp paste that is traditionally feisty in nature, potently hot, sweet, garlicky and decidedly fishy. Again we find this rather mild in temperature.
Kacang panjang belacan $10.00
Stir-fried long beans with chillies and shrimp paste
Malaysian-style salad with prawn cakes, fried tofu,
hard boiled eggs, potatoes, bean sprouts and cucumber
topped with a thick spicy peanut sauce
There's only one vegetarian dish available on the menu, kari sayur vegetarian curry that is totally sold out, we discover to our dismay. The only alternative, our waiter advises, is the rojak Malaysian salad minus the prawn cakes. The lack of vegetarian options surprises me, but the rojak is tasty if a little rich, what with the fried tofu drenched in rich satay sauce.
Roti canai $5.00
Served with two curry dips and spicy sambal sauce
The roti is one of the last dishes to arrive, two young men on roti duty busily frying out the front. The roti is soft and feather-light, although not as crispy and flaky as I'm used to. We tear off small pieces and dip them into the curry dips and sambal provided.
We also order the roti bawang ($6.00) which arrives as four roti pockets folded into quarters and filled with thin slices of Spanish red onion.
Roti filled with chicken or lamb curry, eggs and onion
We order both the chicken and the lamb murtabak, a roti crepe that holds a mixture of meat, eggs and onion. This version is more omelette-like, both the chicken and lamb encased in a thick padding of beaten egg.
Ais kacang $5.00
Red bean, sweet corn and grass jelly topped with shaved ice,
rose-syrup, sweetened milk and palm sugar
The dessert train pulls out with two traditional desserts. Ais kacang is sweet and refreshing, a mountain of ice atop cubes of grass jelly, sweetened red bean and corn kernels.
Starch noodles made from fresh pandan leaves
served with coconut milk, gula-melaka syrup and shaved ice
The cendol is topped with a ladle of coconut milk that is saltier than usual. Just as well the gula-melaka is sweeter than usual too, although the palm sugar crystals are crunchy on the tongue, rather than a thick caramel syrup.
Roti kaya $6.50
Roti filled with kaya pandan and coconut spread
and served with ice cream
Roti kaya is a crowd pleaser, a dessert version of roti with its heart of pandan and coconut jam. We're happily satiated until we see the roti tisu sail past, a giant upside cone of roti that towers with great spectacle on the plate.
It's amazing how much the appetite can grow.
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15 Goulburn Street, Haymarket Chinatown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9211 1668
This has been included on Grab Your Fork's Top 10 Sydney Eats for Tourists. Read the entire list here.
Open 7 days (no reservations)
Lunch: 11.30am - 2.30pm
Dinner: 5.30pm - 9.30pm
Supper: till 2am on Friday and Saturday
BYO $2 per person
10% surcharge on public holidays
Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Mamak Haymarket (30Jul09), (15Jul09), (Nov07) and (Oct07)
Malaysian -- Kopitiam, Ultimo (Dec08), (Apr07) and (Apr06)
Malaysian -- Makan at Alice's, Thornleigh (Feb08) and (Jun07)
Malaysian -- Malay Chinese, Sydney (26 Apr 07) and (3 Apr 07)
Malaysian -- Mc Lucksa, Haymarket
Malaysian -- The Malaya, Sydney
Malaysian -- Tan's Malaysian, Ultimo
Malaysian -- Temasek, Parramatta (Jan09) and (May08)
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10/14/2007 11:09:00 p.m.