Ok ... Malaysian/Singaporean cuisine is so wrapped up in its socio-cultural and indeed contextual environs that its not the easiest to transplant, but ignoring the slight xenophobic tinge to the name, I think Mamak may have just about gone and done it.
Be warned. Its just opened, has an amazing reputation northside, and has been eagerly anticipated. So there are queues. But they're speedy queues. And the food comes quick but perhaps not quite in the most logical of sequences.
First and foremost, Mamak is known for its Roti in all its variants. While you wait in the queue you can watch them flip and twirl that oily dough and salivate in anticipation.
Mamak's Rotis come fresh of the gridle, served with a chilli sambal (similar to ikan billis sambal), a dahl curry, and oddly enough, a fish curry (just the sauce) which isn't exactly traditional. But I can, in all conscience say that the Fish curry was as good as my Mum's, and the dahl was ... well ... dare I say it ... as good as mine!
Their satays (we had 6 sticks of chicken) are the real deal - grilled rather than Fried (oh yes there are establishments out there who fry - you can tell as the meat comes in a congealed mess on the stick) with a decent ground peanut sauce. Not quite as dark and unctuos as I would prefer, but pretty delicious nonetheless.
I love the diced cucumber and slices of red onion ... but what would have really impressed would have been the inclusion of Ketupat or boiled rice cakes. Maybe they could put that as an extra on the menu at some stage.
We ordered the basic Nasi Lemak (you can add extras if you wish) which is exactly how I like it. Although it would have been a nice touch if it came wrapped in banana leaf and newspaper (I guess thats not allowed anymore) like in the old days. The rice was suitably lemak, the sambal could perhaps have been slightly more pungent, but the crunchy peanuts and crispy ikan billis were spot on.
Considering its one of M's ultimate favourites, we had to have the Murtabak, lamb of course. This was the only dissappointment. The filling was ok as far as taste goes, but the egg was a little too scrambly, and I think the pastry was rolled out a little too thin. So it ended up being just a fat soggy parcel. More pastry, less filling and perhaps just a couple more turns on the grill would have fixed it right up.
To wash all of this down, we had 2 mugs of Teh Halia (sweet milky ginger tea) ... and you know what? It was one of the better cups of ginger tea I have ever had.
Mamak. Welcome to Melbourne!!