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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Date Night at MAMAK

This is the first of four restaurant reviews I'll be doing for Malaysia Kitchen Australia.

Simply through circumstance, Hubby and I very rarely get to go out – just the two of us, that is. There are plenty of occasions in which we wine and dine with a cast of thousands (at least it sometimes feels like there are that many) or the kids. And whilst those outings are most enjoyable (except for the odd dinner out with the kids, actually – they can sometimes be nothing short of disastrous!), it is nice on occasion to just sit with Hubby and chat about all the stuff we just can’t talk about when the kids are around. Or life’s other distractions (ie computers, trashy tv) simply get in the way. 

I guess we never really think about just going out by ourselves. Without family around, we rely on our very valued and gorgeous babysitter, Maree, and it simply seems indulgent to splurge on babysitter fees just for Hubby and I to go grab a quick bite to eat.

Wrong. SO wrong.

Why shouldn’t Hubby and I invest in our relationship? On the very rare occasion we do go out on our own, we both really enjoy it. And last Friday was no exception.

When Malaysia Kitchen Australia (‘MKA’) asked me to be a Blogger Ambassador for them, I was immediately excited about it. They wanted to give me a budget to use to go and eat out and then write about it? Hello? Are you serious? Hand over that Eftpos card…stat!

Malaysia actually has a significant place in the hearts of Hubby and I – we had our belated honeymoon there in 2000 (and ate some amazing meals there - especially a spicy tofu dish in Penang), so it was only apt that my first dining experience for MKA be shared with Hubby.

For our dinner last Friday night, we headed to Chatswood to a restaurant called MAMAK (which also has a second location in Chinatown in Sydney) and the restaurant seems to have developed a reputation for its satays. Rightly so.

First things first though…MAMAK do not take reservations. It's open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week, with dinner held between 7.30pm and 9.30pm. This immediately told me that dinner would be quick (it was). If you’re looking for a long, lazy dinner together…forget it. The food comes out thick and fast. 

In addition to this, if you want peace and quiet, you can forget that too. MAMAK isn’t the place for you. It’s quick, noisy (but not in an irritating way at all – it’s rather fun and vibrant!) and bustling with activity. (If the kids like spicy food, and are noisy things, it’ll be perfect for them too!)

This is only one half of the restaurant. We ended up on the other side!

However, if, like Hubby and I, you want some food before heading out elsewhere (we ended up heading to the movies afterwards - something we haven’t done in almost five years!) – then MAMAK is perfect.

Oh, look! It's Hubby...

When we arrived, we didn’t have to wait very long for a table. (Undoubtedly, if you were heading with a group, you’d wait a bit longer, but with the quick turnover, it shouldn't take too long.) As MAMAK is BYO, we took along a bottle of champers (ok, 'sparkling white' - I call it champagne, ok?) and a beer for Hubby (who maintains that beer is the best alcoholic beverage with spicy food). We probably waited close to ten minutes before I gave up and asked the waiting staff to please open our drinks. The waiter dashed off and returned less than a minute later with a corkscrew, which he placed on the table, together with a bottle of water and two hard plastic cups. Okaaay. I guessed (correctly) we were to open our own alcohol here. No biggy. I'm not precious!

With only two glasses, I flagged down another waiter and asked for glasses for the champagne. He returned with two long drinking glasses this time, and I finally got it. There would be no fancy glassware or ice buckets at MAMAK!

Champers is champers, no matter what you drink it out of. 

This wasn't a bad thing though. Obviously at MAMAK, the focus is on the food, not the alcohol. 

We ordered a selection of food. Here’s what we ate:

Roti canai - $5.50
This was absolutely, sensationally delicious. We were tempted to order a second one. Easily, one person can consume this. The roti was light, fluffy and flavorsome. The sauces, especially one (although I’m not sure what it was called) was fabulous. A really great start to the meal. *Hubby’s fave dish of the night.

Satay - $9 for half dozen, $16 for a dozen
Hubby’s not really a big fan of satay, but I really wanted to try the house specialty. We chose the chicken satays and they were AMAZING. So delicious, and Hubby even loved them too. *My fave dish of the night.

Kari ikan (Fish curry) - $17
A little bit of spice in this dish was perfect. Cooked with fresh tomatoes, okra and eggplant - yummm. The fish was a little on the dry side, but it is difficult to keep fish moist in a curry. However, the taste certainly cancelled out the slight dryness.

Sambal udang (Spicy Prawns) - $19
Woo! If you like your food hot, hot, hot…this is the dish for you. Flavorsome, but very spicy. I could only eat two, Hubby ate a few more than that. We thought they were tasty, but probably almost too hot to enjoy. (And Hubby grew up with Indian food, so he’s very used to hot food.) Not as bad though as some spicy prawns I had in a Thai restaurant once years ago though. They were so hot, I couldn’t even taste the flavours! At least with this prawn dish, the delicious flavours still came through.

Where's Jen - my official photographer - when I need her?
TERRIBLE shot. Sorry. 

I was tempted to try some of the sweet roti for dessert (served with ice cream), but we decided we were too full! It should also be noted that MAMAK has a great selection of non-alcoholic and milky drinks (including a Milo one) to enjoy with your meal. A lot of the patrons were drinking those. (As you probably know, milk counteracts the spicy component of such dishes.)

So, what’s my rating for MAMAK out of 5?

I give it: 3 1/2 out of 5
Hubby gives it: 3 out of 5

If you 'like' the Malaysia Kitchen Insiders Facebook page, you can keep up with all the latest news about great Malaysian food and restaurants.  

Do you and your partner have 'date night'? How often? Ever had Malaysian food before? Got a favourite Malaysian restaurant you would recommend?

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Gemma @ My Big Nutshell said...

that is a great review Jodie. I'll recommend to my girlfriends that we get together and go here then see a movie, as Chatswood is pretty central for us. Ahhhh easy!

Rebekah said...

Ooh YUM!! I adore Malaysian food. I feel like Roti now, oh and satay sticks my fav!!

Jane said...

Ohh Jodie, I've wanted to try Mamak for so long, but every time I get there, the line is too long so I always end up at the Bavarian Bier Cafe further down that lovely strip of restaurants.

I loooove Malaysian food. Being half Malaysian/Chinese, my grandma cooks this cuisine like a demon. Would love to try the restaurant at some stage though. xxx

Naomi said...

Great review. I am so loving all the Malaysian food I have been trying out recently. I had Roti Canai for the first time recently and loved it! Such a special opportunity and I love that picture of your hubby...a little shy is he??..haha!

Megan Blandford said...


Oh, and hi Hubby!

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ostello roma said...

that is a .great review