Doubtless you’ve heard that Melbourne has inherited its own branch of Mamak – Sydney’s famed house of Malaysian roti breads, curries and epic queues.
In which case you’ll know this is where you need to come at lunch for a frosty iced tea and a nasi lemak – a blank canvas of coconut rice to which you adhere whole toasted peanuts, chilli-seed ridden sambal, cucumber, boiled egg and ikan bilis (tiny dried anchovies) till you’re adequately amused. But did you also know this easy-to-wipe-down, high-turnover cafeteria does late night supper?
Praise the heavens drinking fans, because Mamak offers the stuff beer dreams are made of.
Roti, if you’re not familiar, is a pan-fried flatbread with layers like sheets of translucent, buttery, tissue paper. They serve it here in all its forms – savoury, with pools of fragrant and fluid curry sauce, and an equally giving lentil mix for running the soft bread through; sweet, as a delicate towering sugar-coated cone with fresh banana slices and a melting blob of ice cream, or stuffed to the seams with minced pork, cabbage and egg (murtabak).
Use the plain flatbread as a pincer for plucking tender hunks of lamb from a kari kambing where it bobs about with thick cinnamon quills in its spicy liquor, or ditch the carbs and go for the chicken satay – a drinker's best friend being sweet, charred and smoky and served on a stick for easy application to ones face via piquant peanut sauce.
Add a mug of half-coffee, half-tea cham (crazy, but it works) and consider yourself sober.