There has never been an abundance of Malaysian and Indonesian food in Atlanta despite the vibrant ethnic scene.
That’s why it’s good see restaurants like Mamak Malaysian Kitchen (5150 Buford Highway, Suite A-170, Doraville Tel: 678.395.3192) open, even though the location is practically a stone’s throw away from all the other restaurants of its kind.
It would’ve been nice to open in a different part of town. But that’s okay.
The food at this tiny brightly lit Buford Highway eatery ranges from good to very good. My single biggest complaint so far is that some dishes lack in the flavor department. Perhaps the kitchen is trying too hard not to offend.
But what the kitchen lacks in boldness it definitely makes up for in quality.
Beef rendang arrives addictively fork tender even though the spices barely come through as they do in other versions nearby .
Two flaky chicken curry puff pastries are as good as you’ll get anywhere, and the warm almost fluffy roti canai might very well be the best I’ve ever eaten in Atlanta.
The kitchen here is a bit more sophisticated than your average Buford Highway ethnic hole-in-the-wall. The little things really stand out, like serving rice in bamboo bowls covered with a banana leaf to tuck in the heat.
The slowly simmered Hainanese chicken that has Atlanta buzzing all Fall truly is crave worthy delicious.
A dish I’ve never experienced before eating at Mamak is called sar char stew beef. Tender braised beef brisket served over lightly braised vegetables and with a mildly flavored, well-balanced Chinese barbecue sauce.
But when I eat this type of food I crave traditional overly sour fish head soups. Didn’t find any on the menu but the kari fish head soup, a popular curry fish head soup is offered here, and it’s quite good. We were told the meaty fish is grouper and it certainly ate like grouper.
Arrive early, this cozy Malaysian restaurant gets busy quickly from all the buzz it received immediately after it opened.
Mamak also makes a great stepping stone for those who have never tried Malaysian and Indonesian cooking, and for those who are easily offended by bold flavors.