The List: Mamak
The last time I tackled an entree from the Creative Loafing Best Dish List on Buford Highway, I was treated to an amazing lobster at Bobo Garden. In fact, almost every foray into the heart of Atlanta's international food scene uncovers a new discovery and most of the time, it's a hit.
So you can bet Billy and I were excited to check out Malaysian "street food" at Mamak. I have never had Malaysian food, street wise or other wise!
This place is located a few doors down Sweet Hut and across the parking lot from my favorite Bahn Mi place, Quoc Huong. The outside of the restaurant was appropriately dive-y, yet still respectable.
The interior was clean and everyone working there was beyond nice. Better still, every table was full and there was a wait! Of course, that meant a Sweet Hut detour while we waited. (Starting with dessert is ok in my book!).
The first dish from the list was in the seafood category. The first thing you should know is there's an error on the list. The dish is called "Sambal pomfret" by Creative Loafing, but it's actually sold as Assam Pomfret.
Pomfret is a flat fish which is popular in Asian food and is typically served in a spicy sauce. Mamek serves their fish head-on in a tamarind chili sauce.
I loved the presentation and am not afraid to find every last bit of meat. The fish was mellow and not at all fishy. However, the flavors are rather bland and the sauteed peppers were a little undercooked. While there's nothing to complain about with this dish, I wouldn't call it "list worthy."
As a side note, I ate every last bit of the meat, but the head and bones remained. I thought I did well on the dish, but no fewer than three people asked me if I wanted a box.
I think I need to explore recipes for fish heads!
Next up were the noodles, Chow Kway Teow , which Billy selected without even consulting the list! These noodles are flat, and stir-fried with a classic Malaysian selection of shrimp, squid, egg, bean sprouts, soy sauce & chili pasteLoved the presentation of this dish and again, the flavors were fine, but they were very subtle and, for my palate, bland.
The sad thing was, when I spied the dishes neighboring tables ordered, I had order envy. There was a fried okra dish at the table next to me that had me drooling.
I will go back to Mamak, but I'll order differently next time.
C'mon Creative Loafing! Get on the game...