If you had any doubt that food bloggers are influential people, then you’ve never been on Twitter.
Forget what The Age and old media is telling you. The hottest restaurant in Melbourne at the moment is the newly opened Old Town Kopitiam Mamak at QV Square. Not one, not two but seven bloggers (to my knowledge) have eaten there in the last week, and then returned again and again. I know this because I follow them all on Twitter and I’ve been privy to their conversations about the mouthwatering Malaysian dishes and drinks on offer.
Not to be outdone, I trundled along to Old Town Kopitiam Mamak to taste for myself what the fuss was about. Naturally when I arrived my blogging compatriots Melbourne Gastronome and Tummyrumbles were also there!
The restaurant is spacious – the airconditioned indoors area buzzes with activity as the kitchen and bar line two of the walls, whereas the outside seats are more relaxed, gazing out on the faux grass and long picnic benches of QV Square.
I’m not too familiar with Malaysian cuisine but the bloggers all agree that Old Town Kopitiam Mamak serves authentic food. The number of Asian patrons (especially students) when I arrived also seem to support this fact. The menu is extensive, covering snacks, fried pastries, BBQ dishes to share, roti, satay, noodles and rice. For novices uncertain of what to choose, I recommend the nasi kandar, which is a choice of two or three dishes and jasmine or biryani rice topped with a crispy pappadum and all served on a ceramic palm-frond platter. It’s a filling meal where you get to try a bit of everything. I’ve had the spicy prawns, fried chicken and the mutton curry and can recommend them all, particularly with the highly spiced biryani rice (just beware of the whole spices – nothing worse than biting into a hidden star anise).
My friend L very much enjoyed her Nasi Goreng ($9.90) and Melbourne Gastronome also liked her Hainanese chicken rice ($9.90), saying that the meat was beautifully poached.
The roti has received rave reviews and we can confirm that it really is delicious, springy and lightly fried but not oily. The large round of roti canai ($4) comes with a curry sauce and anchovy sambal and I have to confess that I really didn’t like the sambal – it was terribly bitter and I had to eat curry sauce to douse the nasty taste out of my mouth.
Normally I’m quite happy drinking tap water with my meal, but Old Town Kopitiam Mamak‘s beverage menu is definitely worth the adventure. If you get any of the specials then they come served in an impressively enormous glass jar with a handle. Clutching at my lychee special, I felt like I was downing a beer stein full of lychee juice, grass jelly and ice. L gave the flourescent Ribena special her seal of approval. Melbourne Gastronome felt that the Milo Dinosaur (a lot of very thick milo), whilst delicious, was probably not the best accompaniment to reasonably rich and filling Malaysian fare, so beware!
Old Town Kopitiam Mamak is a winner – the space is comfortable, the service is brisk and friendly and food is tasty, filling and cheap. I can’t wait to go back.
To read other reviews of Old Town Kopitiam Mamak, check out Addictive & Consuming, Essjay Eats and My Food Trail. For other dish-with-rice options in the CBD, try Jolly J’s Curry Shack (Sri Lankan), Malaysian Oriental Wok (Malay), Coco Rice (Indonesian) and Don Don (Japanese).