Waiting outside a restaurant was once near the top of my list of things to avoid, just above flossing and immediately below emptying the dishwasher. Not anymore. Deep in the heart of Chatswood’s many and ever more numerous apartment blocks, is a restaurant that’s worth waiting outside for a table. It’s not the only Mamak in Sydney but I’m biased enough to claim it’s the best.
The cuisine is Malaysian but the signature, the draw card, the Unique Selling Point is the roti. Not just one roti, but ten different of these delicious fluffy, slightly oily, slightly magical concoctions. Six savoury, including the simple side order that’s as good as a main, the fluffy, crispy yet soft Roti Canai with two curry dips and Sambal sauce. It’s all so delicious that you’ll shed a tear when the roti runs out and be looking around to see if anyone will notice you pick up the salver and lick it clean. Nobody will judge you. Well they will but what do you care, this isn’t a hatted restaurant, this is hawker food.
Once you’ve dedicated yourself to enjoying every mouthful of your Roti Canai entree, there’s so much more to tantalise your tastebuds. There’s another much more filling entree called a Murtabak that’s a roti filled with spicy lamb or chicken, egg and cabbage.
The mains are that Malaysian favourite of Kari Ayam, the slightly sweet chicken curry and many other Karis to satisfy your protein preferences whether you’re pescatarian, vegetarian or unabashed carnivore.
There are the rice and noodle dishes you all know already and of course, Nasi Goreng that favourite holiday dish in Kuta, Langkawi and Singapore and hangover cure from Darwin to Devonport.
If you’re not full by then, the sweet roti dishes await. The Roti Tisu will be whipped past your line of vision by the wait staff for the duration of your meal so it’s a curiosity that has to be given the chance to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Mamak is family friendly, a complete melting pot of cultures and is BYO only. It’s not the sort of place you’ll sit for hours, the service is fast and friendly and atmosphere very relaxed. I never cease to be amazed at how small the bill is. Next time you wander out of the Eat Street side of Chatswood station, keep an eye out for the throng of people outside a nondescript shopfront. Join it.