Mamak is a restaurant franchise with several outlets in Sydney offering excellent, filling authentic Malaysian and Singaporean cuisine.
If you are looking for authentic Malaysianfood in Sydney, at a restaurant not too obscure or unknown, Mamak is probably for you. It is not quite as fresh Sassy’s Red, but serves up well-worn, and popular, Straits recipes. The very name, ‘Mamak’, denoting Indian Muslim food, hearkens to Malaysians. The appeal of the food, however, would for their own worth stand up to wider Australian scrutiny.
Authentic Malaysian Food in the Ambiance of a Mamak Foodhouse
For one thing, Mamak is always crowded. Walk into the city outlet on Goulburn Street in Chinatown in the evening, and one is greeted by the sight of a long, excited queue. Even the slightly lower-key outlet in Chatswood is not immune from the rush of the wait.
The atmosphere is one of vibrancy, and the embers of Malaysian culture and cooking. One feature for the patient customer is theatrical – the kitchen being open to view to the public behind glass, where Indian roti prata might be seen tossed around over a hot cooking table, or sweet teh tarik unfurled from one cup to another, to achieve that delicate, thin quality.
The chefs and prata rollers are not just actors, however. One would think very much that they reflect genuinely authentic Malaysian culinary arts. What really clinches the deal, of course, is hardly the superficial visual. Mamak does serve up delicious, authentic food. For one thing, there are some ten varieties of the mentioned roti prata, savoury and sweet, with many of the classic Straits favourites – curry chicken (kari ayam em), fishhead curry (kari ikan), nasi lemak , kangkung belacan (spinach in a shrimp and chilli sauce).
If one is concerned moreover with an overpriced, small serving dinner, there are no worries here either. The portions are very generous, and indeed the nasi lemak the writer tried left him quite full, and hardly able to take in more. Which would be a shame, in some sense, because there is a fine variety of foods and dishes on the menu.
The curries are spicy and burning to the tongue, just as they should be, in true Malaysian style. The nasi lemak, while evidently slightly oriented towards an Australian audience, with large samplings of the component ingredients – the peanuts, ikan bilis (fried fish), is nonetheless thoroughly flavoursome, while the roti prata tasted just like something out of an eating house in Singapore or Malaysia.
Mamak Open for Lunch or Dinner
Mamak, while serving up authentic Malaysian food, does blend the restaurant with the kopitiam. The outlet in Chatswood is probably more reserved, while the restaurant in the city might be slightly rough for the unadventurous, with stools mimicking the buttrests of many foodhouses in Singapore and Malaysia.
As mentioned, there are two outlets currently open in Sydney, one in the cityon Goulburn Street in Chinatown, and the other in Chatswood right near the train station on Railway Street. The benefits of this are not hard to see – they are ripe for an easy lunchtime or dinner meal, with friends or family. The many frequenting Malaysians and Singaporeans at both outlets will probably encourage passers-by, and the food prices are not too high, either.
An individual nasi lemak would set one back about A$12, while main items for sharing like beef rendang curry are about A$16. Simply, for accessible, affordable, and delicious Malaysian food in Sydney, one could do little better than with Mamak.