Vancouver Eats – Memak Malaysian Cafe

Charles the owner/chef giving a speech on the live band stage of the pub. organized a lunch for 50 of his readers to try out a new Malaysian cafe.  For those who does not know what Chowtimes is, go visit this site right now… or after you read this post.  The website and the couple behind it is truly a local gem on Vancouver eats and food-blogging.

I am not familiar about authentic Malay cuisine so I can’t comment on the authenticity of the food but judging from the responses by Malaysian foodies, it seems like it’s the real deal (like a HK cafe vs Authentic Canadian Chinese cuisine).  Does that make sense?

The restaurant is located in a dive pub (Pub 340) which one would not know what type of food is being cooked in the kitchen without walking in.  The owner Charles mentioned that they are working on having a proper sign.

This review will be a bit different from the others since this is a special event that was put together by the couple behind Chowtimes, Charles and Julie (owners/chef) and a lot of hard work were put into making this event successful and fun.  I will only focus on the food and not logistic hiccups that came with serving for an unusual party of 50+.

First off, I apologize that I forgot to bring a camera (what was I thinking attending a foodies event without a camera???) and it was halfway through that I realized that phones are now our emergency cameras. 🙂

I thought it was funny seeing a tattooed server that looks like she’s more familiar serving burgers and beers explaining to us what each Malay dish is.  And also the fact that we were a hop from the bar where there are  men getting their drank on early on the weekend.

Pub bar patrons wondering where all the asians came from... Asia, of course!

This was what was on the menu: satay and roti, bah kut teh (meat bones tea), mee goreng (fried noodles) and nasi kandar (coconut milk rice, beef rendang, curry chicken, prawn sambal).

Luckily, we met a Chinese Malaysian at the table who could tell us more about the food and whether if it’s authentic or not.  I won’t base my review on his opinions but it was interesting.  The roti was okay.  It was not one of my favourites in town.  We had 2 satays, one chicken and one beef.  The chicken was quite tasty but the beef was chewy and dry.  The other 8 ppl at my table agreed all the same.  The peanut sauce was good with big chunks of peanuts.

The bah kut teh was tasty but the tender fall-off-the-bone meat needed some sauce.  It came with chili soy sauce and some type of sauce that’s like hoisin sauce with chopped garlic.  I ate the meat with a dash of the hoisin-like sauce and it was really good.  The sauce overpowered the true taste of the bah kut teh.

The only bad thing about this was that I had to share it with 4 others!

Then we had the Mee Goreng.  When the waitress placed our plate down, the burnt smell was very apparent.  It was tolerable until we started eating and realized that the plate of noodles were burnt so each bite was quite bitter.  We looked around at other tables and suspect that we got a bad batch because we were the only table that did not finish our plates.

It wasn't just a few strands of burnt noodle. I took a couple out to get a clearer photo of how every strand was like. Each bite ended with an unpleasant after taste. 😦

The next dish was meant to be their showcase dish of the day, the nasi kandar.  I was happy that we each got our own serving but that’s where my happiness ended.  The chicken I got was raw.  It was not ‘not cooked well enough’ as those who know me, I can eat undercooked meat.  However, this was full blown rawness.  To be honest, after discovering the chicken, everything else on my plate was kinda meh afterwards.

It was raw enough that you could see the glistening film (along with the tendons) that you would normally find in uncooked chicken.

Since this is not a regular visit to the cafe and that I really appreciate that it was organized, I feel guilty for not giving it a thumbs up.  But unfortunately, the mistakes made were basic culinary mistakes and not a subjective opinion on taste which is not as forgiveable.  These are the mistakes that could kill the reputation of a restaurant, especially with the competition in Vancouver. But with the number of glowing reviews on Urbanspoon, maybe the pressure of cooking for 50 sharp tongued foodies threw their game off today.  Perhaps the restaurant deserves another try on a regular night.

Mamak Malaysian Cafe on Urbanspoon

Posted on January 16, 2011, in Vancouver Eats and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Oh Mo, oh No! There were so many people there I did not connect you to this blog! I wish I knew earlier and get to know you better. Who were you seated with yesterday?

    Anyway, Charles and Julie felt so bad about the chicken. Suanne and I hope to properly catch up with you one of these days. I am wondering … would you and E like to meet up for lunch on one of these weekends?


    • Hi Ben!

      I was the one that shook hands with you at the front door when I said “Hi, I’m Mo!” 😉 It’s okay, you were quite busy at the door making sure ppl found the event. I sat with Eric, Wendy, Thomas, Aaron, Yurika, Ken and his guest (yikes i forgot her name and I chatted with her a lot since she sat beside me). You came by and chatted with us when you were explaining about the cool egg cooker you got from Malaysia. Sorry we didn’t have a chance to come say bye, you were chatting with someone at the time, and my husband and i were in a rush to get home to the kid. We didn’t expect it to end at 3pm! 😛

      Sure, lunch sounds good. Perhaps we can try a new place that you haven’t been to yet?


  2. Hey Mo!

    You still managed to catch some good pictures with the phone camera! I’m not sure if you noticed, but the waitress had her thumb dipped in the bah kut teh when she brought it out 😦 And wow, Thomas told me that the chicken was raw but I didn’t expect it to be THAT raw! We’ll go give it another try with the gc and will let you know how it is 🙂


    • Opps, maybe I thought it was $40 cuz there were 2 of them! I think I had the worst piece of the batch. It was really nice to meet you and Thomas at yesterday’s event!

  3. Thank you once again for attending the Chowtimes-organized Mamak Café tasting event. We acknowledge that some of the curry chicken in the Nasi Kandar dish was undercooked and would like to take this opportunity to sincerely apologize to anyone who received it. We should not have allowed the timing and excitement we were feeling that day to compromise the quality of the curry chicken. We have learned from this, and will be taking precautionary measures to ensure that this does not happen again in the future. Thanks again for coming. It was a pleasure serving you all!

  1. Pingback: Chow Times » Mamak Cafe Event

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