Barely two weeks old, Mamak Village is good news to inner west locals keen on a Malaysian roti fix but not quite prepared to brave the queues at Chinatown stalwart Mamak. The set-up is smaller, but a gleaming stainless counter out the front offers a peek at the theatrical display of roti production for passersby.
Only a few tables line the narrow corridor, but most customers are shepherded upstairs, which includes a shaded verandah that overlooks Glebe Point Road.
More More Tea $3.50
The A3 laminated menu has 24 savoury options, although a number of them are erased with masking tape, presumably yet to be launched. The More More Tea is explained as tea with condensed milk and palm sugar syrup, although it doesn't quite arrive as I expected, the tea more sweet than strong and bitter. Mixing the layers creates a milky brown tea but the taste of palm sugar overrides anything else.
Inside the main dining room, the walls are plastered with blown-up images of Malaysia, including Penang Bridge by night, a candy pink and blue More More Tea Inn, and a More More Tea sign. Asking our waiter about the significance of the inn offers only a blank look in reply, but Google has since told me the fictional resort was built on Redang Island for the Hong Kong movie Summer Holiday. The movie - starring Sammi Cheng and Ritchie Ren - was a huge hit across all of Asian in 2000, and the set was such a popular tourist attraction, it was reinforced to become a permanent structure in 2003. Now I just have to hunt down a copy so I can watch it!
Teh tarik $3.50
Teh tarik is much more my style, the strong tea brew balanced with condensed milk and poured from cup to cup to create a frothy foamy top.
On our two visits to Mamak Village, we order something different each time. Roti canai is a crisp rectangle of pastry - not as fluffy as the version at Mamak - but still enjoyable ripped into shreds and dipped into the two accompanying curry sauces and a splodge of chilli sauce. Roti bawang is slightly sweeter, filled with finely shaved slices of Spanish onion.
The roti chefs do well given the equipment they have to work with, using a heavy tray sitting directly on top of a four burner stove instead of a customised flat grill.
If there is one dish you must order here, it's the chicken skewers in pandan leaf. This triangular snack is wrapped up in a pandan leaf like a birthday present, holding moist patties of chicken that are fragrant with lemongrass and garlic, and grilled to a caramelised and smoky sweetness.
Ayam berempah Malaysian fried chicken is juicy, covered with a golden crust that offers crunch and spices.
Satay chicken is reasonably good value at $1.50 per skewer, and we douse the char-grilled chicken with lashings of peanut sauce, nibbling on chunks of cucumber and raw Spanish onion in-between.
We bite through the golden fried Nyonya tofu and are surprised to find pillows of soft tofu seasoned with tumeric and studded with peas.
Penang char kway teow $9.50 (dinner $12.50)
Penang char kway teow comes with fish cake and prawns only, a welcome discovery given the price. The noodles are fresh and slippery, with deliciously caramelised edges, tendrils of bean sprouts offering a contrasting crunch.
Mee siam is a lighter noodle dish, thin strands of vermicelli fried with prawns in a spicy, sweet and sour sauce, served on a refreshing bed of shredded lettuce.
The mound of pandan sago pearls that make up the sago gula melaka is easily torn down with our eager spoons. A moat of coconut milk is sweetened by a generous dousing of gula melaka palm sugar syrup, almost painfully so, by the time we reach the bottom.
Roti planta $5.50 (dinner $6.50)
The size of the makeshift roti grill downstairs means that roti tisu is not on the menu (and trust me, I pleaded). We order roti planta as consolation instead, a rectangle of roti cooked with lashings of butter and plenty of sugar. The roti does have an extra element of crispness, but I found the stuffing of butter rendered the pastry inside a little too greasy and soggy for my liking. We did enjoy the patty of pandan kaya on the side, a coconut jam made with coconut milk, eggs, sugar and pandan.
Roti pisang is roti filled with thin slices of banana, scattered with chocolate sprinkles or meises. We hack into the crispy banana crepe with gusto, made even better with a dollop of coconut kaya on top.
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Lunch Wed to Mon 11am-3pm (closed Tue lunch)
Dinner 7 days 5.30pm-10.30pm (til late Fri and Sat)
Malaysian - Makan at Alice's, Thornleigh
Malaysian - Malay Chinese Takeaway, Sydney
Malaysian - Mamak, Haymarket
Malaysian - Temasek, Parramatta
Food bloggers' tour of Malaysia
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1/10/2011 12:07:00 a.m.