The boys are back in town.
After three long and painful weeks of renovations, Mamak is open again for business.
I don't often head to Mamak these days, turned off by the huge queues every evening (is Mamak the new old Spice I Am?) but it's funny how a little bit of reverse psychology works its magic. Closed and unavailable? I want it now.
We headed to Mamak last Friday, its third day of business since its re-opening on Wednesday. Mindful of the imminent crowds, Suze, Simon and I meet outside at 5.45pm, our planned guarantee of getting a table immediately.
A shift in kitchen set-up and a re-orientation of tables and chairs means the seating capacity has now effectively doubled. In spite of this, by 6.02pm, Mamak is full.
Teh halia $3.50
Teh tarik with a hint of ginger
Our drinks arrive not long after we order them. I stick with my favourite teh halia, the frothed and strong milky tea that has the added warmth of ginger.
Teh tarik $3.50
Classic Malaysian sweetened tea, "stretched" for a frothy topping
Simon has the traditional teh tarik stretched tea, whilst Suze goes for her favourite half coffee/half tea concoction.
Half tea, half coffee
Though I like to call cham Suze's "crazy drink", the version here is suprisingly drinkable. It tastes like a milky diluted coffee or a smoky tea that is cold and super sweet.
Roti canai $5.00
Served with two curry dips and spicy sambal sauce
The live roti action out the front whet the appetite for the roti that is to come. We order two serves of the roti canai, the roti thin and crispy and clumped into a fluffy cloud. It's all finger action here and we tear the roti off in strips, to be doused liberally in curry sauce and fiery sambal.
Lamb murtabak $10.50
Filled with spicy meat, cabbage, eggs and onions
The lamb murtabak is as omelette-like as on previous encounters, and hence disappointing. I'm pleased when Suze reassures me that the filling in murtabak should be wetter, meatier and more curry like, than the solid omelette version here.
Kangkung belacan $13
Stir-fried water spinach with chillies and shrimp paste
I'm pleased to taste a fair amount of belacan in the kangkung, the shrimp paste which even Poh described on last night's MasterChef Australia as "funky". There's plenty of heat too amongst the salty fishiness although I'm pining for a touch more sugar to give it better balance.
Nasi lemak $7.50
with curry fish $3.00
and sambal prawn $4.00
On the multi-offering plate of nasi lemak, it's funny that the roasted peanuts and crunchy ikan bilis fried anchovies, are the first things we all go for. Two generous chunks of mackerel smothered in curry sauce are rich and oily in texture. The coconut rice is rich on the palate and on the tongue with coconut milk. Sambal prawns are a highlight, swathed in a sweet and spicy sambal, although at two dollars each they should be savoured slowly.
Ayam goreng Malaysian-style fried chicken $12 for four pieces
marinated with herbs and spices and full of flavour
Our ayam goreng fried chicken arrives following a good fifteen minute lag in dishes. I notice too, that the table next to us have to chase down their roti which arrives as they finishing their meal.
The fried chicken has a odd orange hue but the skin has plenty of crunch. Suze and Simon report that the chicken legs are disappointingly dry. I'd cleverly gone for the thigh and suffer no such problems.
Roti kaya $7.50
filled with a traditional spread made from pandan and coconut
Dessert? With Suze around, that's definitely a rhetorical question. Despite Suze's hopeful plea for extra kaya, we find there's not much of the sweet pandan-flavoured coconut jam within our roti kaya. It's barely discernible outside of a rectangle within the very centre.
Roti tisu $9.00
Paper-thin, extra crispy and served tall
The roti tisu, on the other hand, is all kinds of joy. There's something so majestic yet playful about its impressive stature, and it creates a pitter patter of excitement every time I see one head past our table. Suze calls this her "party hat" and because she's never averse to a photo opp, she dispatches me with camera to capture her "wearing her party hat" at the table. As the plate bearing a roti tisu makes the slow ascent toward the top of her head, patrons behind us turn their heads, bemused by the spectacle of a roti tisu spaceship magically levitating.
Roti tisu with condensed milk
On the menu, the roti tisu is usually served with ice cream, but as Suze advises, it's best to order it the Malaysian way and ask for condensed milk instead. We annoint the roti tisu mountain, the condensed milk running down in little rivulets like melting snow down the alps.
Roti tisu destruction
Oh it's good. Suze and I are in heaven, the thin tiles of sugar-glazed roti crunching in our mouths with the sweet creaminess of condensed milk.
We relinquish our table to the growing masses outside, pausing by the kitchen for another viewing of the roti live performance. It's mesmerising, awe-inspiring, and somehow making me hungry all over again.
Friday night Mamak queue
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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), (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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7/15/2009 12:14:00 am