Little Malaysia

August 11, 2011

26 Liverpool Street, Melbourne

This was going to be a post about Mamasita. But much like my post on Hooked that was supposed to be on The Vegie Bar, our (H, J, T, D and myself) plans were changed because of unreasonably high demand and the absence of a table-booking system. Another thing that this post has in common with the one on Hooked is that I’m convinced that we ended up having a better time at our last-minute-venue than we would have had waiting for hours for our first preference.

It is further justification for this idea of a food-happiness-saturation level. I developed this idea from the more traditional economic concept, the income saturation level; a level of income above which an individual gains no further utility or enjoyment from the extra goods they can consume. I think the concept also applies to food but in the sense of quality, rather than quantity. There is, to again use a surprisingly economic (or is that erotic?) term, a ‘bliss point’, beyond which, even though the quality/price may be much higher, any increase in your enjoyment of the meal is negligible.

What I’m saying, in a very long-winded fashion, is that you don’t need to go to the most hyped about place to have a fantastic night out. Mamasita won an award in this year’s Age Cheap Eats Guide for “Biggest Hype of the Year”. Little Malaysia’s Urbanspoon page says 95 people have voted on the restaurant. Mamasita’s has 1502 votes and 46 photos (that’s 46 more than Little Malaysia). Popularity isn’t the only criteria by which you should rank a place, something which is sometimes hard to remember in Melbourne, a city which lives off foodie-hype.

I’m portraying Mamasita as the Big Bad Wolf here, but all I’m trying to convey is that hype is not everything, and that my friends and I had a wonderful meal in one of our favourite places in the city. The food is consistently good, reasonably priced for the CBD, and the staff are friendly and efficient. And I thought (of course I am only speaking for myself here) that we had just as much fun in Little ol’Malaysia than we would have at Mamasita (which, in case you were wondering, we didn’t go to because though we put our name down for five people before 6pm, a table wasn’t going to be free till 10:30).

On this particular visit we ordered the lamb curry, the satay beef, the sizzling beef, and Little Malaysia’s house favourite, the Rendang beef. We realised as we placed our order that this was probably too much beef, and if given a second chance, I would have swapped the sizzling beef for some veggies. We also got roti, which comes as great big crumpled pieces that you tear apart and share.

The favourite, voted unanimously by all those present, was the satay beef. I had initially suggested chicken, but have now been converted: beef holds the peanut flavour much better than chicken does. This was a particularly well done version, said H, “you can really taste the peanuts: they jump out at you!”.

The next best dish, I thought, was the Rendang beef, and I can see now why the waiter suggested it. Pieces of very tender beef coated in quite a thick paste that was fragrant and tasty but not spicy. The lamb curry was also aromatic and had quite a kick to it. Finally the sizzling beef, which I usually ordered in the past, seemed to pale in comparison. Huh.

“Dessert?”, T was quick to enquire. That word spoken at Little Malaysia only means one thing to us: deep-fried ice-cream. A double hyphened dessert, what else could you want? This isn’t the best version of this common Asian dessert that I’ve had, I generally prefer it a little softer and with a sweet honey-ed sauce drizzled over the top, but still, we enjoyed our ice-cream. A good night had by all.

Little Malaysia on Urbanspoon

Filed under: Malaysian, Melbourne CBD