Masak Masak has carved out a niche on restaurant-heavy Smith Street with its take on Malaysian hawker food.
As soon as you walk into the bright and funky restaurant you’ll notice the charcoal barbeque front and centre. My (Asian) parents were very impressed with this piece of equipment as it’s rare for them to see satays cooked in such an authentic fashion in Australia.
The three of us tried out several dishes from their good value $10 lunch menu (you can have a meal + fresh coconut for $15).
To start, a mix of beef and chicken satays, nicely smokey and charred with a spicy homemade peanut sauce and cubes of rice and cucumber, another authentic touch.
The roti john ($9) was like a cartoon hot dog – a sweet brioche bun with an egg omelette and a slab of beef jerky wedged inside. Again parents were impressed by the obviously home-made jerky, which takes a lot of work and tastes completely different to the highly processed nuclear stuff you buy from Asian supermarkets.
The highlight was the Beef Rendang and the amazingly flaky, almost filo-pastry-like roti. Beef Rendang is one of those dishes I usually avoid as my taste buds have been dulled by too many studenty one-pot meals of gristly chuck steak stewed with packet spice mix. Masak Masak‘s Beef Rendang is the opposite end of the spectrum – complex, elegantly layered spice with chunky, fall-apart meat.
Mop it up with possibly the best roti canai I’ve had in Melbourne – quite unlike a lot of the overly chewy, doughy offerings around town. In fact, I’m so excited by this roti that I’d advise ordering a serve separately (it’s not on the menu but it’s $4) and using it to accompany all the food rather than eating boring old steamed rice.
I’ve also ordered takeaway from Masak Masak and while the food is still good sadly I don’t think it transports well compared to eating in. In one of my takeaway orders I tried the charcoal grilled beef ribs with sambal oelek ($19). These aren’t American-style ribs that require a bit of Neanderthal-style gnawing and tearing – the bone unsheaths cleanly from the meat, no cutlery required! It’s sticky, salty and the sambal has some serious mouth-burning heat to it. A highlight dish.
I’m encouraged by my dip into Masak Masak’s menu and am keen to try more of their dishes, especially the grilled stingray, a rarity in Melbourne.
Mon-Sat 11.30am – 2.30pm, 6pm – 10pm
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