Mamak, CBD

12/23/2015 , , 0 Comments

Mamak is a popular Malaysian restaurant located on Lonsdale St just past Elizabeth Street, easily accessible by a number of trams or about a five minute walk from Melbourne Central. I had actually tried to come here with some friends awhile ago, but there was such a long queue that we decided to go elsewhere instead. This time, we went around 6pm and were lucky enough to get a table straight away. I had an enjoyable experience at Mamak, though it definitely isn't the best Malaysian restaurant in my opinion.

There's a really good atmosphere to Mamak because it's always so busy - lively and warm, brightly lit and you didn't even have to raise your voices even though it was quite noisy in there. The decorations are quite simple; there's just a few large rustic photos hung up that contrast with the brightly painted red walls, but together with all the lights, gives the whole place a comfortable dining experience. Service was pretty good for the most part; our food came within about five minutes of us ordering, even the fish curry which we were told would take about ten to fifteen minutes. However for some reason, the vegetable curry did take another 10-15 minutes to arrive. A good thing we found about Mamak was that they don't make you leave when you finish eating, despite there being a queue outside waiting for tables, which allowed us to just sit and talk afterwards.

Between four of us, we ordered a curry each, as well as a Roti Canai ($5.50) to share and Ice Milo and Ice Tea (both $4). I was slightly surprised at how little variety was on the menu though, compared to somewhere like Pappa Rich where there is so much to choose from; at Mamak there is only a few curries, noodle/rice dishes and entrees, and a small drinks and desserts menu. The curries also didn't come with rice so we had to order it on the side ($3 per person) to go with the Chicken Curry ($16), Fish Curry ($17), Spicy Lamb Curry ($16) and the Vegetarian Curry ($14) that we ordered. The roti was really nice and fluffy on the inside with a good elasticity, and slightly crispy on the outside. It was well made enough that we could just eat it by itself without adding any of the dipping curry sauces, though they added great flavour when the roti was dipped in them.

The Kari Ayam classic chicken curry was cooked with freshly ground spices and chunky potatoes, and we all felt that this was the spiciest curry out of the four we ordered, even though looks wise it appeared to have the same curry as the spicy lamb. The chicken itself was well cooked and tender, though there was a lot more bones in it than we expected- we thought it would just be pieces of chicken in the curry. The potatoes were also well cooked and very flavoursome, though not too soft which was good.

The Kari Ikan fish curry was cooked with fresh tomatoes, okra and eggplant, and was a quite a spicy dish as well. The fish itself had a lot of bones so you had to be quite careful when eating, but it was well cooked with a good texture that wasn't mushy. The vegetables in the curry contrasted with the soft fish for different textures, especially the okra (also known as lady's fingers).

The Kari Kambing spicy lamb curry was slow cooked until tender, and like the other two curry dishes, was also quite spicy. This was probably my favourite curry dish of the night, as the lamb was really lovely and tender, falling apart really easily and still having its natural lamb flavours despite being slow cooked in the curry. The portion was very generous for the price - I was actually surprised that this dish was the same price as the chicken curry (both of which were cheaper than the fish curry), as lamb options are usually more expensive.

The Kari Sayur vegetarian curry was cooked with lentils, fresh tomatoes, carrots, potatoes and eggplant, and was the mildest of the four. If you're not a big fan of spicy food, this would be the curry for you. There was a good balance of flavours and textures in the dish, with the vegetables being well cooked so that they were tender, soft and flavoursome, but not to the point of being mushy. The texture of the curry with all the lentils mixed into it made for a really enjoyable dish that was a lot lighter than the meat curries.

As most of the dishes we ordered were quite heavy and spicy, the ice drinks we ordered went really well to balance out and cleanse our palettes every now and then. They were quite sweet because of the use of condensed milk as opposed to normal milk, but when the ice had melted more, this wasn't too bad.

Mamak is worth going to for some authentic Malaysia flavours and dishes, though I would recommend going quite early so you don't have to wait too long for a table. Overall a good experience for me, though some more variety of dishes would be nice!

Mamak on Urbanspoon Website


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