Address: 15 Goulburn St Haymarket NSW 2000
Phone: 02 9211 1668

Tags: malaysian, take away, byo

Mamak is named for the alfresco-style roadside eateries that flourish along Malaysia’s eat streets and marketplaces. Cheap, bustling and alive with the sounds of spitting frypans, smacking lips and lively gossip, these spice-laden stalls dish out a unique hybrid of Malay, Chinese and Muslim Indian cuisine. The atmosphere at Mamak is much the same. Smack in the heart of Chinatown, the narrow, bright red room is buzzing at both lunch and dinner, and because, just like a real mamak, they don’t take bookings, it’s not unusual to see queues 10 people deep or more spilling out the door onto neon-lit Goulburn Street. But don't worry. Mamak is all about fast food - with flair.

Queuing customers are entertained by Mamak’s dedicated roti (flatbread) chefs, who prepare the thin, sticky dough in an elaborate dance of slapping, stretching and dousing in lashings of oil before frying on a hotplate and then moulding the round, flaky bread into shape. Served with two curry dips and a rousing sambal, it’s one of the finest and most filling $5 snacks in Sydney. Elsewhere on the menu, chicken and beef satay sticks have the rich, charcoal flavour of the genuine article cooked on open-air grills on sultry Kuala Lumpur nights. The lamb curry is tender with a thick, fragrant and slightly sweet gravy, and the fried chicken, encased in an impossibly crisp and golden batter, is meltingly moist and brimming with flavour. Try a sweet roti for dessert, filled with kaya; a jammy, green-tinted coconut and pandan spread.

Fiona Davies, December 2008

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