230 Smith Street
Collingwood VIC 3066
+61 9417 4510
I don’t normally venture out of the ‘burbs when I crave Malaysian food. After all, there’s excellent home-style Malaysian food to be found five minutes away from my house. However, one evening Pete and I were walking down Smith Street for whatever reason. It was that time of the night when we were starting to get hungry (and by that, I mean 6PM because damn, we’re geriatrics) so we decided to look for food.
We ended up at contemporary Malaysian restaurant Masak Masak because we saw that they had stingray on the menu they posted up on their window. Not one to be deterred by unusual food, we immediately walked in and asked for a table for two. Plus, a few of my friends had been to Masak Masak and loved it so I knew we wouldn’t have a terrible meal.
Wooden floors and cute pastel-coloured metal stools created a contemporary yet playful setting, perfectly reflecting the menu that was big on traditional Malaysian fare with splashes of modern twists.
I ordered a teh tarik (pulled tea); I found the tea a bit too sweet and not starchy (read: ‘pulled’) enough for me though.
The word ‘masak’ means cook in both Bahasa Indonesia and Malay and cooking is what they do well here (well, duh, obvs or they wouldn’t be running a restaurant). The menu is not overly extensive, yet every dish sounded amazing on paper. If we weren’t so set on the stingray, we probably would have grabbed the cola pork belly instead. Regardless, we ended up getting the $49 set dinner, which was just more than enough to feed two people – three if they didn’t have massive stomachs like the two of us.
We liked that we were able to choose what went into the set dinner: something from the ‘bites’ menu, followed by a charcoal grill satay (‘chicken or beef?’), a snack, a larger plate and then even larger plate before finishing off with some macarons from Luxbite.
If we were to order everything individually, it would have cost $55. Not that $6 is a substantial saving but hey, that amount gets me to work each morning so leave it at that, okay? So yes, I would recommended the set dinner menu if you’re planning to have a massive dinner. If you just want to order one dish or have only a couple of nibbles before venturing elsewhere on Smith Street though, I wouldn’t bother.
We started off with a century egg that was quartered and flavoured with pickled gingers and chilli oil. I don’t normally eat century egg unless it’s in congee but I appreciated the delicateness of both the egg and dressing.
The chicken satays with pickled onions and cucumbers were alright, but by no means fantastic. It could be my Indonesian bias speaking but I found them a bit too sweet and the accompanying peanut sauce oily.
Props, however, should be given to the pork jerky (bakwah) roll. I love a good jerky (so much so that I have my own dehydrator so I can make my own beef ones at home) so there was no way I was going to agree to let Pete order anything else BUT this from the snacks menu.
The bakwah was glorious in all its stickiness and sweetness. I thought the buttery brioche would have made the dish overpoweringly sweet but there was none of that. What a perfect snack.
At only $8, the kon low mee with prawn wontons and bok choy represented excellent value. I’m a sucker for dried egg noodles and Masak Masak nailed it. They didn’t skimp on the prawns for the wontons too and there was a small bowl of chicken broth if we ended that bit of extra flavour (not necessary in this case).
And then came the stingray. After taking several photos of each other posing with a forkful of stingray like twats, it was time to dig in. The mammal was beautifully grilled over charcoal which resulted in a lovely smoky flavour that went well with the belachan sauce that was smeared all over it. The meat itself isn’t that remarkable though – think a slightly blander version of mackerel.
After all that, dessert was a relatively subdued affair – a Kopiko-flavoured Luxbite macaron each. To be fair though, I do love my Luxbite macarons and we really didn’t need to eat anything else after all the food we had. You win, Masak Masak.
Our meal at Masak Masak was as exciting as seeing Hamilton win the Malaysian Grand Prix this year. I loved that each course was not only served with a smile by our friendly waiter, but also came with different twists and turns. This is definitely a Malaysian restaurant worth trekking away from the ‘burbs to.