I first read about Mamak on atablefortwo about a year or two ago. Back then, Mamak was still a Sydney only institution, hailed as one of the best roti eateries in Sydney. Needless to say, I was extremely excited when Mamak opened up in Melbourne earlier in the year. I wanted to visit straightaway, but the long queue prevented me from doing so. So I waited and waited and waited. Until one day, one of my friends wanted Malaysian, so I half dragged her to Mamak, meanwhile on the way there, rambling about how busy they are and we might not be able to get a table etc. Then a very anti-climatic thing happened – they were almost empty. I shrugged off the slight embarrassment and followed our sweet waitress to our table.
During lunchtime, Mamak offers curry & rice sets which is substantially cheaper than their normal menu. I went for the lamb curry, which was fragrant and offered a healthy dose of heat. I do wish the lamb to be slow-cooked a little longer, it was a little on the chewy side.
My friend went for the fish curry. The odd thing was that the star of the show wasn’t the fish. The fish was rather overcooked and rather bland in general. What we both really loved was the accompanying vegetables in the curry. Both the sweet, creamy eggplant and the fresh tomato married well with the strong pungency of the curry.
I wasn’t leaving without some roti in my tum. I actually wanted to try the roti tissue or the roti bom, but my friend wanted the roti kaya. So, roti kaya it is! For those who are unfamiliar with Kaya, it is a traditional sweet spread of coconut and pandan. Our roti was soft, rich and buttery; slicing your knife through it, the sweet kaya spread just oozes out onto the plate, mixing with the ice cream. I expected the roti to be a little more flaky on the surface, but honestly I didn’t mind the softness of the texture at all. I think for this dish the texture worked.
Satisfied as I was with the roti kaya, I still couldn’t forget about the theatrical roti tissue. So a few months later, I persuaded my boyfriend to get a snack with me before class.
The roti tisu sat proud and tall on the plate, sure to satisfy any inner child. This was completely different in texture to the roti kaya. When you poke your spoon through it, it shatters, leaving you with shards of crispy, buttery roti with crystallised sugar on top. The whole thing, simply screams: junk food! Junk food or not, the novelty was there, which made it very fun to eat. Towards the end though, the whole thing just became too oily and sweet. You know is too sweet when you are digging your spoon into the ice-cream to bring some refreshing relief to the sugar coma. Unfortunately, the vanilla ice cream that came with it was of very low quality – the type that you find little shards of ice throughout.
Even though, Mamak wasn’t as amazing as I expected it to be, it was still adequate enough to satisfy my roti cravings. Personally, I think my future visits to Mamak would be limited to roti only. Afterall, I still haven’t tried the roti bom yet!