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Being a new mother has the tendency to fry your brain, if pregnancy hadn’t already sizzled it away. Getting up several times a night to feed your newborn will do that to you.
Which is exactly why I left home the one piece of paper that we needed to enjoy our first meal as a family of four.
We were spending the day at Taronga Zoo and felt the perfect end to the perfect day would be to visit a Malaysian restaurant for dinner. Part of being a Malaysian Kitchen Ambassador is that we get to try amazing Malaysian food.
Taronga Zoo is in Mosman, an exclusive suburb of Sydney and near to the area where Craig spent many years hanging out when he played rugby league for the North Sydney Bears.
There are plenty of beautiful trendy suburbs to visit and I had picked out a restaurant in Neutral Bay a week or two earlier.
As we were driving on the freeway, halfway to the zoo, Craig asked if I remembered to bring the green piece of paper with the Malaysian Kitchen restaurants on them.
“Oh crap! I left it at home. I can’t remember the bloody name of the restaurant either; if I look it up I might remember it.”
After Google searching Malaysian restaurants for an hour, and cursing Australian businesses for not having websites, all I could discover that Ginger and Spice was the only Malaysian restaurant in Neutral bay, except its tag line had it as being Singaporean.
“You know I don’t think we can risk it. I can’t be sure that is the restaurant. The only one I know for sure in the North shore area is Mamak in Chatswood.“
We really wanted to avoid going to Mamak as it is probably the most popular Malaysian restaurant in Sydney and we wanted to give the exposure to someone a little less known.
But, baby fried brain kinda ruined that noble cause.
Mamak in Chatswood is a little lessor known that it’s famous sister in China Town, so I felt a little better about that.
To Mamak we went and straight to a 20 minute line out the front. I had heard that this was pretty standard with this restaurant famous for its traditional roti and authentic Malaysian street hawker food.
We were all exhausted and starving after our big day, or should I say extremely big week. Savannah lay curled up in her baby capsule the whole time blissfully unaware of our growling tummies.
We decided that we needed to order some traditional Malaysian food and so ordered some of the Masi Lemak, which is said to be Malaysia’s national dish. It is fragrant coconut rice accompanied by an ensemble of sambal, peanuts, crispy anchovies, cucumber and hard-boiled egg.
It is so not like what we would normally order. And I wished we didn’t, as I would have enjoyed so many other dishes more.
It wasn’t too bad, just an odd mixture of dishes which we were unsure of how to eat and enjoy it. The sambal prawns we ordered with it were fiery but tasty.
Our Kari Sayur, a vegetarian curry cooked with lentil, carrots, fresh tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant, was extremely spicy but lacking in any other sort of flavour; it was really quite bland.
I had a refreshing lime juice with my meal, actually Kalyra’s “I-don’t-like-it leftovers,” and Craig thoroughly enjoyed his Kopi Tarik, a traditional Malaysian white coffee, coming back for seconds.
The service at Mamak was exceptionally fast and friendly and the prices of the meal were very reasonable. Definitely the cheapest we had yet, which made our growling tums very happy.
The frenetic pace of the restaurant, the food coming out all at once- in true Asian style-and my stomach so hungry that it was almost eating itself was a recipe for almost meal disaster as I ate far too quickly and did not give myself time to savour the food.
Mamak was, however, rescued by the delicious Mee Goreng, which tasted just like Pad Thai. Wok-tossed hokkien noodles with eggs, prawns, fish cake slices and fresh bean sprouts.
Kalrya really loved this dish. Actually Kalyra devoured not just noodles but roti and rice as well. Any restaurant that can get my daughter to eat like that, without any tantrums, gets a big plus.
The real treat to Mamak though was the dishes it is made famous for.
Roti! I had eaten it at Chinta Ria and found it okay, but not really getting the fuss of it.
Our entree serve of Roti Canai, crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, came out with two spicy dips and sambal. I could have had several plates of this. It was the perfect start to the meal.
And then the kicker at the end was the roti desert. Heaven.
It reminded me of banana pancakes on the streets of Khao San Road, Bangkok, except they were fluffy and with the ice cream on top, so much tastier.
I chose the Roti Pisang which is roti with sliced bananas thinking that would be the bomb, but was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed the Roti Kaya far more.
It was filled with a spread of pandan and coconut and had soft subtleties of sweetness in it; the coconut just made me want to come back for me.
Dinner at Mamak was worth the wait, and was the perfect end to a blissful family day.
I walked out of there with a roti, Makepeace-family love glow!
Mamak: The Facts
Where: Shop P9, 1-5 Railway St, Chatswood (02) 9411 4411
When: Open 7 days
Lunch: 11:30am to 2:30pm
Dinner: 5:30pm to 9:30pm
Price:Entrees and deserts: $5.50- $11.50 Mains: $8.50- $19
We dined as a guest of Malaysia Kitchen. All opinions are of course my own.
P.S when I got home and checked the green paper, it was Ginger and Spice in Neutral Bay after all!
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