So after the huge success of Mamak, our next foray into the land of Malaysian cuisine took us a little closer to home – Malacca Straits in Manly.
The first alarm bell? The almost elderly couple sitting side by side at a table. The only other people in the restaurant. You could almost see them physically shrink as our herd bumbled in and fought over who was sitting where I’M SITTING NEXT TO MUM NO I AM YOU ALWAYS DO IT’S MY TURN I WANNA SIT NEXT TO MUM BLAH BLAH BLAH.
The second alarm bell? The menu. It was one of those Chinese meets Thai meets Malaysian meets OH NO. I struggle with these sorts of joints – I just want the family/people who run it to go, you know what, we come from this country or region or province and so that is what we’re going to cook. And cook well.’
Then Jasper’s lemonade went all over me and him. Jasper does not do well with disasters in public places, particularly when it means his “going out jeans” get drenched in sticky soft drink.
Blessedly by then more people had come in reducing our role as the travelling circus.
Then the food started arriving.
It wasn’t that it was bad, it just wasn’t very good. The satays tasted very mass-produced, no distinct flavours or spice. A sambal prawn dish was so heavy on the tamarind and chilli that it mostly went untouched. A flat-rice noodle dish was bland but fought over purely for the flat noodles. About the only redeeming dish was the beef rendang but even it was not a patch on the version made by my BIL. At least the meat was tender.
Everyone was fractious. Oscar was teary – as he is want to be when food offerings are not rich and abundant and the two little boys started a competition to jump down the four stairs between the upper and lower sections of the restaurant.
I feel bad saying this – here was a lovely family, their daughter still in her school uniform with an apron over it serving customers, their young son hanging around near the cash register but the whole experience was disappointing.
We did introduce the boys to the world of fried ice cream (well, the bigger boys have had it before) which was hardly Malaysian (is it?) and had a mixed reception anyway.
As we left Felix said, ‘can’t we just go back to Mamak.’ Indeed.