Marrybrown, a Malaysian fast-casual restaurant chain that was founded by Lawrence and Nancy Liew in Malaysia in 1981, has made its way to Melbourne. The multinational brand (not to be confused with Canadian chicken chain Mary Brown’s), has over 500 locations in more than 16 countries and opened its first Australian store at Burwood One Shopping Centre earlier this year.

When the venue opened, the team was met with two-hour queues and often sold out items before close. (The queues have since subsided as staff have learnt to manage the unexpectedly high demand).

But why open in Melbourne? “To us, it’s the most successful multicultural society in the world, uniting a multitude of cultures, experiences, beliefs and traditions,” CEO Joshua Liew tells Broadsheet, Zooming in from the chain’s head office in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. “Melbourne is truly a city of gastronomical delights and people are really open to new tastes and experiences.” (It probably helps too that the 2021 census shows Melbourne is home to over 57,000 people born in Malaysia.)

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At the heart of Marrybrown’s menu is ayam goreng, or Malaysian fried chicken, which is known for an aromatic spice blend coating.

At Marrybrown the ayam goreng comes served as part of a burger, as a cheese-covered drumstick, popcorn-chicken-style over rice, as nuggets or in a bucket. There are both mild and spicy versions – and Liew refused to share the recipe with Broadsheet. Though he did reveal that ginger, lemongrass, ground cumin and ground coriander play key roles in the spice mix, which is imported from Malaysia.

Aside from the secret spice blend, what sets Marrybrown apart from most fried chicken chains is the focus on the dining experience. “Our restaurants are designed to provide a comfortable and inviting atmosphere that is more of a fast-casual restaurant than a fast-food chain,” says Liew.

The Australian menu is not an exact replica of its Malaysian counterpart (sadly, the chain’s iced milo boba hasn’t made its way here yet), but fans of the Malaysian outposts will recognise options including nasi lemak – a Malaysian rice dish of coconut rice, sambal and other toppings like dried anchovies and peanuts served in a banana leaf; cheesy wedges with mayo; and soft-serve.

The franchise has also introduced some Australia-only menu items. These include a fried chicken wrap and chicken curry rice, where pieces of fried chicken are topped with the chain’s signature Malaysian curry sauce and diced spring onions, and served over rice.

Marrybrown Burwood One
18/172 Burwood Hwy, Burwood East

8820 8548

Mon to Fri 11am–11pm
Sat & Sun 10am–11pm