I’m excited to say that my first try of the Malaysian dish, Nasi Lemak, was at Mamak, the well-known Malaysian establishment in Sydney on my recent trip. Afterwards, I thought about the dish for days – and now it has been weeks. How can such a simplistic dish be so amazingly tasty?!
During our trip to Sydney, A and I were conveniently located close to Chinatown. On one of our first nights there, it was decided that we’d head to Mamak for dinner. Two of our friends, The Food Pornographer and David (previously mentioned in the posts of El Publico and Standing Room Only), recommended Mamak to A and I before we left as a ‘must try’ during our stay in Sydney. I can now understand why…
There’s typically a wait to get into the restaurant, as it is extremely popular. On the particular occasion we went, we were there quite early (around 6pm) so the line was pretty reasonable. We waited only about 15 – 20 minutes (I say reasonable as A and I returned a few nights later at around 7.30pm and the line was literally down the street – it would have taken at least an hour to get a table). The wait time went quite quickly though, as we were able to watch some of the staff members make roti through the window and it was quite theatrical.
When we entered, I noticed that the place is actually quite big inside and has a lot of tables. The food looked amazing around us and the place was buzzing with energy. It’s BYO booze too ($2 per person), so there was a lot of people happily drinking a six pack of beer between their table while enjoying their food.
Seeing as though I was about to eat in a restaurant that is seen as one of the most authentic Malaysian restaurants in Sydney, I decided that I would finally try Nasi Lemak, typically seen as the national dish of Malaysia. It consists of fragrant coconut rice with sambal, peanuts, crispy anchovies, cucumber and a hard-boiled egg ($8.50). I also choose the option to add Ayam Goreng (fried chicken) for an extra $3. There are other options available for you to add a curry or sambal side dish of your choice as well.
A ordered the Kari Sayur ($14), a vegetarian curry cooked with lentils, fresh tomatoes, carrots, potatoes and eggplant with a side of rice ($2.50). We also ordered some Roti canal ($5.50) which is the original and plain roti. The roti is served with two curry dips and spicy sambal sauce.
The first dish to arrive was my Nasi Lemak. I don’t like to start eating until the whole table is served so I waited patiently waited until A’s dish came. However, the roti came out next and we were both keen to tuck in while it was hot. The roti was exactly as it states on the menu – crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. The two curry dips were really flavoursome as well and were the perfect accompaniment. The roti was a good serving size but I am sure that the next time we head to Namak we’ll definitely be ordering two servings just for the two of us! It was a perfect start to a lovely meal.
A’s meal arrived soon after we finished the roti. We were both keen to start our dishes and I was immediately a fan of the Nasi Lemak. The little fried anchovies were light in flavour and really crispy. The flavour was a perfect accompaniment to the fragrant coconut rice and spicy sambal sauce. For me, this dish was not only great in flavour but texture as well, as each individual element supplied a different texture in the bite – crispy, soft, spicy, which was either warm or cold. I really enjoyed that aspect of this dish as each bite was different in flavour and texture, regardless of the individual elements being simplistic in their own way. An added bonus was that the cucumbers were fresh, the rice was perfectly cooked, the chicken was fried really nicely and was a perfect portion size.
A’s Kari Sayur curry was also really nice. The flavours were balanced really well and she enjoyed it thoroughly. The vegetables were all cut quite largely which was unusual but were still cooked nicely. When we were planning to return during our week in Sydney, A decided that the curry was so good that she would’ve ordered it again (unfortunately, as mentioned above the line was too long and we were too hungry to wait on the night we tried to return).
We cannot wait to dine there again and try some of the desserts listed as well as some other savoury dishes. Mamak is not only a restaurant that serves very tasty food but it is also really reasonable in price, as our meal cost a measly $33.50. I have now returned to Perth and have been in contact with a few other Perth food bloggers who are helping me find amazing Nasi Lemak in Perth to satisfy my cravings until I return to Sydney later this year.