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Oct 7, 2013 08:18 AM

Mamak House Flushing

Three of us visited Mamak House this weekend – serving the new to us and I think NYC Penang halal (Mamak) cuisine, with its significant Indian contributions. We have had mixed experiences with cooking of these region in NY over the years and have been often disapponted.

At Mamak, we had a most interesting, delicious and enjoyable meal. We started with pasembur, a composed salad with jicama, cucumber potato, fried bean curd, hard boiled eggs fritters and other components, mixed with a sweetish thick sauce (much like gado gado) mad e with sweet potato, nuts and other components, seemed fairly canonical, pleasant and refreshing. The main dishes were sambal ikan, sotong nasi kandar and daging nasi kandar. The first two, a dish of mackerel chunks fried in a sharp sambal, and squid sautéed in an an outstanding and fascinating sambal and spice mixture, including according to the owner fennel and cumin and visually plenty of curry leaves were great, the spices totally distinct in the two dishes, and very well matched to the tasty seafood they contained. We loved these two dishes. The third fell down on the cooking of the meat. It was a lean cut that had lost all its juiciness while not absorbing the flavor of the wonderful dark and deeply spicy sauce. This dish deserves a lower, slower preparation and in my opinion. a fattier cut of meat – the potential is there for something great, but the actual execution needs improvement. We finished with a great big bowl of cendol, fewer squiggly cendol pieces maybe than we would have liked, an an eccentric presentation but refreshing and very nice flavor from the coconut milk, candied red beans palm sugar, etc.
Looking forward to a return visit for additional fish and seafood dishes (owner recommended the Asam Pedas, and the fish head curry sounds really good, as well as some of the vegetables and to try other meat dishes to see if they are more successfully executed, and to get another taste of that wonderful squid!
. The restaurant also offers set meal combos, Penang hawker specialties, and with prior notice nasi ulam, an elaborately spiced rice dish. There is great cooking going on here and its an attractive place with a responsive owner but its serving an obscure cuisine in a bit off the track location– GO!

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  1. nice review, ive been meaning to try this place for a while

    4 Replies
    1. re: Lau

      Its just very different from other NY malaysian places serving singapore and penang style dishes Set your expections aside and try their specialties and enjoy!.

      1. re: jen kalb

        well most malaysian places in manhattan serve some mashup of dishes. in malaysia or singapore you would never see those dishes all being served at one place, its much more segregated by ethnicity and then further by being much more specialized by dish (or a few dishes) since in both countries you really have three distinct ethnicities: chinese (several different types), malay and indian (usually tamil) each of whom is fairly segregated from each other to a fair degree

        But yes thats why i noticed it in the first place, so def look forward to trying it

        1. re: Lau

          this wasnt directed at you Lau, and I agree. It seems to me that most of the malaysian restaurants I have tried in recent years have an amalgam of the popular dishes as you note and are simply not very good. These cuisines had a brief hot period where there were one or two good cooks around nyc, then it became a genre in the chinatowns like thai or even burritos that a lot of cooks, not necessarily even from the region but maybe having worked in one of the "Penangs" attempted to present in sort of a watered down way. The lady at Aux Epices is cooking a few tasty dishes, but Malak House is really exciting a penang cuisine different from the mostly nyonya type dishes typically seen.

          1. re: jen kalb

            oh yah i understand, i was just saying for the edification of others reading this who may know little to nothing about the cuisine...sounds great! will try

      1. re: scoopG

        sorry, I had wanted to update this thread but couldnt find it this am I guess because I searchd for Mamak House not Mamak. thanks for linking it over.

      2. Their web site seems to be off line, as I wanted to see if they still offer roti canai. In three visits early in the summer they never had them possibly due to lunch time eating or plum bad luck. The seasonings in the Ayam Rendang are unlike any chicken rendang I have had before, and as good as the best. Flavors that registered on the palate and were gone leaving an impression of a lovely visitation. A touch sweeter than most.
        Udang Nasi Kandar - I had a half order really fantastic. Again I have no idea how they made this taste this great.
        As has been mentioned on another Mamak thread the handling of the proteins - shrimp or lamb - can seem to American palates a tad dry.
        I would suggest that if a dish is offered from both the steam table and freshly prepared have the latter.
        As you say,very different maybe a bit reminiscent of Spicy Mina in that the food is deeply personal, non generic
        I too have had search problems with Mamak vs Mamak House on the board

        1. Nice review. While I enjoyed the flavors at Mamak, especially the fantastically aromatic curries, the pasembur was my least favorite dish.

          It was too heavily dressed, much too sweet, lacking in aromatic spices, with too much jicama and potato and barely any seafood and half a boiled egg. It was very disappointing.

          Secondly, I have some reservations about recommending Mamak because as much as I love their flavors, in retrospect, they give very little protein/meat in their dishes, especially given their prices. They charge for rice and their roti canai curry does not come with even a speck of chicken.

          1. ps our meal, plenty for 3, cost $60 for 3 including a generous tip (no bevs) and was in a pleasant setting