366 Lonsdale St
Melbourne VIC 3000
+61 3 9670 3137
Earlier this year, I tasted the best roti in Australia. It may not be exactly the ones you can buy for less than a dollar at a street stall in Malaysia but I’d say they’re pretty damn good. And given the lines forming outside of Mamak on Goulburn Street, Sydney, every hour of every day, you can bet that I’m not the only one who thinks Mamak’s roti dishes are excellent.
So when I heard that Mamak was opening a branch where the Lonsdale Street JB Hifi DVD store used to be, I was ecstatic.
(Yes, I’m aware that the above TV show had gone to sh-t a long time ago but like that was going to stop me from watching)
Mamak had their soft opening a week and a half ago, which I was invited to but could not attend. Then they had their grand opening a few days later which I actually rocked up to … only to find that the line at 7:30pm that night was as long as the inbound traffic on the Eastern at 8:00am in the morning. Screw that.
My chance came on Sunday, however, when I arrived at 11:45am for an early pre-studying lunch. Mamak opens for lunch at 11:30am so I thought the place wouldn’t be terribly packed, especially on a Sunday when most Melburnians are nursing killer hangovers.
I was wrong.
It was more than half full by the time I arrived, with happy couples feasting on all manners of roti dishes and Malaysian staples such as nasi lemak and fried noodles.
Everyone who’s been to Mamak knows that you have to be stupid if you leave here without ordering a roti dish. It doesn’t matter whether you order a roti on its own or with a main meal, it needs to be ordered. My preference is to order the roti and not bother with everything else for you can get better nasi lemak, mee goreng etc in the suburbs. On Sunday, I ordered a roti chanai ($5.50) and a frothy glass of teh tarik (above, $3.5o), lovingly made and presented with a flourish by my friend Jess, who I first met at the Sydney restaurant and is now helping Mamak in showing Melburnians how it’s done.
The roti was predictably amazing. When you’re not particularly hungry, all it takes is a ball of freshly-made roti that was soft, fluffy, crunchy, flaky and buttery in equal doses. And while the curry sauce, the dahl and the dab of sambal were all delicious accompaniments, the roti still tasted excellent on its own – that’s gotta be a testament to good roti. It was only a small meal, but it was enough to keep me full while I spent the rest of the afternoon studying.
Another thing I need to add here is that the service was great. Jess and her crew were polite, helpful and friendly despite being run off their feet with the Sunday lunch crowd. I also received my roti and tea pretty quickly too. From what I could see, there seemed to be very little (if any) teething problems despite only being open for a few days which I think is an incredible achievement.
It will be a while before I return – and it’s only because I hate queues more than anything else. In the meantime, I’m just glad that Melbourne Mamak lovers don’t need to cross the border for some good roti☺.