I’m not precisely quick when it comes to popular things. Think movies, fashion, music, restaurants, etc. I never watched Titanic. I don’t wear trendy clothes. Mention any mainstream singer and rest assured I never heard about them. Didn’t go to the Greenhouse (in my defense, I was on the road from the 10 of March til early April) and I’m probably one of the last food bloggers in Sydney to visit Mamak. But I finally did it.
Last Sunday were the Peruvian presidential elections. Alvaro and I met my sister for a pre-voting lunch at Mamak. As expected there was a queue, but luckily it wasn’t too big when we arrived, only 3 or 4 people outside the door. Watching the skillful roti masters certainly doesn’t help when you’re starving but I have to admit it is very entertaining.
About twenty minutes later our table was ready. The staff was super busy carrying orders and dirty dishes to and from the kitchen, so it took a while until someone came to our table. Being our first (and certainly not last) time there, we decided to go with the most popular dishes: roti canai and half a dozen of chicken satay to start, plus a kari ikan (fish curry) and nasi lemak (coconut rice served with sambal, peanuts, crispy anchovies, cucumber and hard-boiled egg on the side) to share as mains. To drink, Alvaro and Gladys ordered the popular teh tarik (sweetened tea) and I the teh halia (sweetened tea with ginger).
The dishes arrived in a flash but unfortunately not in order: mains arrived first. Under different circumstances we would have waited for the entrees but we were extremely hungry. We figured out the rice wouldn’t be enough for us, so we order an extra serving of steamed rice, which also arrived at the speed of light.
The coconut rice was delicious (I’m so glad my aversion to coconut dissolved into space), and of the sides around it, the crunchy anchovies and the peanuts were my favourites. The fish curry was very nice, too, with big chunks of fish and a good share of tomato, eggplant and okra. Healthy and tasty stuff.
Nasi lemak ($8.5)
Kari ikan ($17)
A few minutes after the roti canai arrived. It was served with two curry dips and spicy sambal sauce. The roti was cooked to perfection, with a slight chewiness that forces you to take your time and savour the flavourful curry sauces. Although most people prefer having one roti per person, it would have been too much for us.
Roti canai ($5.5)
When we were almost done with the rest of the curry, the chicken satay arrived. No complains here, the sauce was perfect and the chicken cooked to perfection. There was leftover sauce that Alvaro and I ate mixed with rice to cut the sweetness.
Chicken satay ($9 for 1/2 dozen)
We sipped our teas during the whole meal, they were nice but too sweet for our taste. I wondered how Malaysian people manage to stay fit with so much sugar and starch in their diet.
Teh tarik ($3.5)
And speaking about sugar, it was dessert time. One to share would have been enough but we wanted to try at least two. Roti tisu was the obvious choice (everybody loves the beautiful crispy cones), and the pandan and coconut spread in the roti kaya sounded too good to miss. A scoop of vanilla ice cream added extra indulgence to each dessert. We ate the roti kaya first. It was nice, but we couldn’t taste the coconut at all.
Roti kaya ($7.5)
Next came the roti tisu, the beautiful sweet crispy roti cone that seems to be present on every table. Taste-wise is not complex at all, just roti and syrup, but its crunchiness makes it a joy to eat. It reminded me of the fried pillows of wonton with honey that I used to eat a thousand years ago. The ice cream at this stage was not necessary at all, we could have easily substituted it for a good espresso shot to cut the sugar levels. But who can say no to ice cream?
Roti tisu ($9.5)
15 Golbourn Street
Haymarket NSW 2000
(02) 9211 1668