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Masak Ku is situated just minutes away from Camberwell train station and on the busy Burke Road. Masak Ku in Malay is translated to as “cooked by” if you’re curious. Masak Ku serves Malaysian cuisine with influences from Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisines as Malaysian dishes usually are in one way or another. It’s not your typical Malaysian restaurant as the ambiance and quality of the food caters towards a more upper market demographic but if the food is great, sometimes forking out that bit extra is worth it.

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Masak Ku’s Chicken Satay’s are cooked to perfection, tender but cooked all the way through. They could have been a bit more generous with the satay sauce on the other hand and I prefer a bit more nuttiness to the sauce which I found to be lacking in oomph.

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One of the specials that wasn’t on the menu was the Soft shell Crab which had an amazing combination of flavours. Sweet, spicy, salty and with all that crispiness. One of the highlights for me.

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The Kelantan Chicken I found to be cooked well, the chicken was tender but the sauce didn’t impress. I  liken it to the typical Soy Chicken that you may find in a BBQ Pork/Duck/Chicken Chinese restaurants.

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The Nyonya Vegetable Curry was also one of my favourites, the curry had enough spiciness and with the softened vegetables it makes for a delicious meal.

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Masak Ku’s Sambal Fish seemed promising on the menu, but overall I found it lacked flavour. Fish was cooked well, but the marinade used just wasn’t absorbed by the fish.

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Here they make their own Ice-Cream, and they have a few choices to select from. Such as Chocolate and Chilli Ice-Cream and Durian. The Ice-Cream here whilst flavourwise was fantastic, the ice-cream itself was particular ice-y, and not smooth and creamy as it should be.

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Their Lychee Ice-Cream with jelly was quite nice, the ice-cream smoother than the scoops we tried before it. However, still I found the Ice-Cream to be not as smooth as I would have liked.

Impressions
The food and service at Masak Ku is great overall, with some exceptions. I find it hard to justify coming here regularly as I wasn’t overly impressed with the dishes. Whilst the had great flavour to them, I can probably find as good as tasting dishes in other Malaysian restaurants for half the price. However, if price isn’t an issue and you want to try some Malaysian cuisine in or around Camberwell, Masak Ku will scratch your itch.

Highlights
Soft shell crab, Nyonya Vegetable Curry

Masak Ku on Urbanspoon

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Sometimes Melbourne surprises you with its restaurants, and you can find real gems in many places around town. Som Tam is a Thai restaurant located in Thornbury, and is one of the latest Thai restaurants to hit Melbourne. Having opened earlier this year, Som Tam serves authentic Thai cuisine and what’s appealing about Som Tam is that the dishes on the menu are meant for sharing and in many ways this is a great thing, especially so as you can taste a wider range of dishes on offer. You can check out their menu here.

What I liked about Som Tam, is that it isn’t afraid to serve something different. The Thai restaurants I’ve frequented tend to serve the more commonly known dishes to Melburnians, but here it not only serves these but adds something a bit different to make it their own.

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We dined here on a Saturday evening, and every diner receives a complimentary Thai salad.  The salad is refreshing and light, with the slight sourness of the dressing and the crunchiness of the julienne vegetables. It’s quite a nice way to start your evenings meal.

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Satays are such a joyous thing to have as a starter. The Moo Satay here uses marinated collar pork so there is a bit of a bite to it, and served with a generous amount of their Thai peanut sauce. There is a richness to the sauce which probably comes from the use of coconut cream, and the subtlety of the turmeric and lemongrass just gives it a well rounded flavour. The nuttiness of the sauce isn’t too overpowering but it definitely goes well with the tender pork.

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The Vegetarian Tom Yum Soup here is in contrast to what you may typically find in other restaurants. The broth is clear isn’t your typical Tom Yum, with its clear broth but what it does retain is its spiciness. There’s also something with the combination of ingredients that I couldn’t quite work out why its different in taste but there is a slight tartness instead of the usual sweet, sour and spicy which we placed it down on the more generous use of fish sauce but I’m not certain. It may be a surprise for some, especially on taste but there is a particular cleansing nature to the soup that some may like.

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Som Tam’s Jasberry Rice is what I liken to a combination of Jasmine rice with the Black Sticky rice, which reveals itself in this purplish hue. It’s an interesting type of rice and the slight bite of some of the rice grains makes it interesting, maybe similar to having Jasmine rice with brown rice actually.

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The Red Curry Roast Duck was probably my favourite dish of the night. According to the menu, they use an in-house five spice mix for the duck and it’s served in a red curry with longan and fresh berries. There is indeed a certain sweetness to the curry, but the combination of the spiciness and creaminess of the curry along with the spices used makes for an amazing curry. The tender duck really just adds to the depth of flavour and I could really have that red curry all to myself.

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The Pad Ke Mao here is another winner, what makes this fantastic is how we call it the “wok flavour” where its this high flame from the stove that somehow creates this amazing flavour that you can’t get in your standard stove at home. For those that haven’t come across this dish before, it’s a flat rice noodles with basil and chilli and the essential Thai ingredients that brings it all together. It isn’t too spicy though if you’re asking, but just enough as a little kicker.

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Roti’s are the crepes of South East Asia, you can have it savoury with a simple curry or add only with butter or Kaya (coconut spread) even. If you wanted it as a dessert, ice cream and fruits are commonly used. Som Tam’s Roti adds bananas with a Palm sugar syrup and whipped cream inside the roti. The roti is soft inside yet crispy and it goes exceptionally well with the bananas and syrup. You can also request to add a scoop of ice cream which I feel would be perfect together.

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Their Black Sticky Rice with Coconut ice cream is another delicious dessert on their menu. The Black sticky rice here is different to the one served above, as they tend to add coconut milk (or cream) and sugar to make this dessert and a variation of this is also found in Malaysian cuisine. It’s served warm and as the black sticky rice retains some of its harder shell, it gives it a nice bite. Having this with a ice cream is definitely the way to go. The ice cream here isn’t as smooth or creamy as I would have liked but the coconut flavour is pleasant and it doesn’t taste artificial which is always a good thing.

Impressions
Som Tam really makes a name for itself here with its aromatic, and tasty Thai dishes. I had a hard time even choosing what to order because there were dishes that looked interesting such as their Green Curry Fried Rice or the Son In Law starter. The appeal of it all here is that the food is still authentically Thai and yet something distinctively modern and fresh about it.

I’d also like to add the service here was fantastic, they were attentive and friendly and made you feel at ease. So overall, it was a wonderful night out, great good with great people to enjoy it with.

Som Tam 
750 High Street
Thornbury VIC 3071

T: 03 9480 5276
E: eat@somtam.com.au

Opening Hours
Monday: Closed
Tuesday – Friday: 11:30am till 3:00pm/5:30pm till 10:00pm
Saturday: 5:30pm till 10:00pm
Sunday: 5:30pm till 10:00pm

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People that frequent Sydney may know of Mamak in Chinatown, and it’s popularity over there has seemingly lead to Mamak opening down in Melbourne late last year. Serving Malaysian food and leaning towards a more Indian/Malaysian style cuisine, they don’t offer a large selection of food but what they do focus on, they do it well.

Mamak’s popularity also extends to Melbourne, having walked passed there even before it opened I saw a few groups of people waiting until it was officially opened. I don’t know if it’s that honeymoon period most places have but I have a feeling it’s probably not just due to that.

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We ordered their Curry Chicken Nasi Lemak, almost a staple of Malaysian cuisine, side note, even the Air Asia’s Nasi Lemak isn’t that bad, all things considered (plain plane food) . This is their only rice dish unless you order the mains but they do also offer a few different sides with the Nasi Lemak such as curry chicken, sambal prawns or friend chicken at varying price points.

What was instantly pleasing was their sambal, it was spicy, sweet and basically just right. Their chicken wasn’t too bad either! It was cooked well, and the curry sauce didn’t have too many spices that some other restaurants seem to put. For the price though at $11.50 it definitely leans on the pricier side, Nasi Lemak tends to be under $10 due to it’s simple ingredients and easy to cook. I remember eating Nasi Lemak wrapped in banana leaves (smaller size) and with no meat in Malaysia for roughly $1 AUD. Bad comparison but now I feel like visiting Malaysian again.

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We ordered a dozen Chicken and Beef satay for $16 and this again leans on the pricier side and the portions also seemed quite small but the sauce and flavour makes up for it. I really liked the satay sauce, it was spicy, and just sweet enough but I found it to be different to satay sauces I’ve had. It was nutty but didn’t seem to have that overwhelming peanut taste to it. If you ever venture towards Dandenong Market there is this fantastic satay shop near the Fish and Meat area, it has the best tasting satay sauce and chicken/beef satays at a reasonable price. You can buy them cooked, or uncooked (refrigerated or frozen). Really good.

I found the chicken satays to be the better of the two, having a more robust grilled flavour but still being able to taste the chicken. That’s not to say the beef wasn’t good either, but it certainly seemed a bit tougher in comparison.

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I always jump at the chance to order Murtabak because it seems so rare around these parts, well, it’s certainly getting more popular so that’s a plus. I prefer the Lamb Murtabak due to the flavour of lamb oozing through the roti makes it usually a marvellous dish. What I liked about Mamak’s Murtabak is that they stuffed the roti full of cooked lamb, onions, cabbage and egg. The filling was cooked perfectly and I could have eaten it all day. The only downside of having a thicker filling is that the roti served was on the soft side. I like my Murtabak roti crispy and this was nowhere near that, sadly. Probably the best Murtabak I’ve eaten in Victoria is still Taste of Singapore.

The curry sauce provided was surprisingly good, it was spicy and just creamy enough. Only con was that it was served just warm, and after tucking into the Murtabak, it was basically cold! The spicy sambal as commented on above complemented the roti well, I only wish there was more.

The other curry accompaniment which I can never remember the name of, but is always served with Roti, is as what you’d find in any other Malaysian restaurant. I don’t tend to have too much of it, but a small amount of this is always nice to have with freshly made roti or Murtabak. The only other downside is that you have to wait 15 or so minutes. I guess it’s great that it’s made to order though.

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You can’t go to a Malaysian restaurant without trying their Teh Tarik. I though Mamak’s Teh Tarik was on the sweet side but not probably not bad enough to think of your poor teeth straight away. I would also liked if it had more “tea” taste to it but other than that, I wouldn’t mind ordering it again. It was only $3.50 so it didn’t seem so scandalous. I remember ordering a Teh Tarik at the now closed Malaysian restaurant in QV (Before PappaRich) and that was served in this puny tea cup for two or so sips.

Impressions

What I like about Mamak is they focus on Roti and Satays, some of my favourite kinds of food. It is a bit disappointing their menu doesn’t have that much variety but I guess in terms of mamak style food, this is what they usually offer.

Their sambal is a delight in both their Nasi Lemak and the Murtabak. You can see why people are coming back for more and I can’t say no to more mamak style restaurants in Melbourne. The majority of the food is tasty, and cooked with though. If you’re in the CBD and want Malaysian Mamak food, you’d be hard pressed to find a better one.

Although for more variety, ChilliPadi in Flemington I feel offers better bang-for-your-buck but YMMV.

Mamak on Urbanspoon

Mamak Melbourne
366 Lonsdale St
Melbourne VIC 3000

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Sambal Kampung is located in the heart of Melbourne’s Chinatown. It is one of the few Malaysian restaurants that have opened up in recent years on Little Bourke St. It’s probably my most visited Malaysian restaurant in the CBD as there aren’t many Malaysian restaurants to choose from in the city.

I believe there have been changes in menu and cooking over the years though so it can be a bit inconsistent and well, I went there a couple weeks ago and it definitely wasn’t as good as before.

The image on top is of their variation of the Mee Goreng, and to be honest, it was actually quite good. I’m not a big fan of the sweet and strong tomato tasting Mee Goreng’s, and in this dish it isn’t overpowering. It also has hints of chilli with it too, so that’s a plus. Squeezing some lemon juice on top also gives this dish an added layer of freshness over the slightly oiled noodles so overall it’s a balanced Mee Goreng.

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We ordered a Tom Yum Nasi Goreng, with seafood. I expected it to have a a really fake tom yum taste but again I was pleasantly surprised with how it tasted. It wasn’t too overpowering but you could definitely taste that it was tom yum and it had a great balance between the spicy, sweet and sour elements of tom yum. Matched with the nicelycooked seafood, it was quite a nice dish.

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Their satay snack dish is one of their newer menu items and it was again, surprisingly tasty with loads of flavour.

The few negatives I would say about this was the actual meat was overcooked and a tad dry, and since there wasn’t really enough satay sauce to dip into, parts of the meat went without sauce and it didn’t taste as good.

Also the fresh cucumber was soft when it should be crunchy with some bite to it. You could tell it was probably not at its peak ripeness.

However, the satay sauce was the hero of the dish. It was packed with flavour. It had a strong nutty flavour, slightly sweet balanced against a great nutty and slightly viscous texture.

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I was a bit disappointed with their drinks menu. The black jelly drink had no sweetness to it at all, and was just ladled with ice so you didn’t really get your monies worth.

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Same goes for the Three Colours drink, which had red bean, cendol, syrup and ice. It didn’t have the sweetness to make it nice, as the red bean and cendol aren’t sweet at all. The loads of shaved ice also made this a difficult drink to well…drink. It just made what sweetness was existent disappear when the ice melts and so it was just kinda bland.

As mentioned before, we ate here again and it was disappointing to see that their dishes just lacked the flavour that it used to have.

Sambal Kampung on Urbanspoon
Sambal Kampung

234 Little Bourke Street
Melbourne, 3000

(03) 9663 2666

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