• Mamak (Lonsdale St, Melbourne)

I remember Mamak in Sydney years ago.  Before our flight home, we were at the door waiting for it to open, then scoffed down hot, delicious roti with watery dhal before rushing to the airport just in time for our flight.  It was worth it.

Since then, its Melbourne expansion has seen Mamak become the topic of gossip amongst foodies in the superior southern capital.  I finally checked it out, and compared it to the Sydney original, and the even more original roti breakfast I enjoyed in Penang.

Arriving at 1pm on a weekday, I was pleased to see tables available and was seated along the side wall without a wait.

The menu extends beyond roti but maintains Malaysian specialities.  I, of course, had to order the signature roti canai.

Usually served with two curries and sambal, mine arrived with a double serve of dhal – that being the only of the only vegetarian accompaniment.  It was thick with crushed lentils, lots of chilli and at one point a hint of aniseed.  The roti could have been served hotter, but the cooking was still admirable with a brown crunch on the edges, and a tissue-like, elastic dough in the middle.  As good as that in Penang?  The curry and roti there were better – but how can one deny that taste-buds are always more favourable judges on holidays?

Seeing Teh Tarik on the menu, I could not help but try it too.  I was pleased to see the milk being poured from high to give the beverage its name of pulled tea.  There was a lot of froth.  The tea was strong.  The condensed milk gave just the right amount of sweetness.  Sigh.  I could have been in Malaysia at this moment.

But I was not in Malaysia.  I was in the busy city, rushing in during my lunch break.  This is a proper restaurant, with proper tables and proper service compared to the casual but tasty coffee shops of Penang.  Still, the roti is enjoyable and cheap.  And to be honest, it was the best Malaysian food I have enjoyed in Melbourne for a while.  Go ahead.  Talk about it. Mamak.

366 Lonsdale St
Melbourne 3000
03 9670 3137

Mamak on Urbanspoon