Before Aussie-Malaysian pals Julian Lee, Alan Au, and Clement Lee came onto the dining scene in 2006 with a Chinatown market stall dedicated to roti canai, Sydneysiders were hard-pressed to find authentic Malaysian street food. Now, nine years later, those humble beginnings evolved into Mamak, a restaurant with queues out the door every day. The team’s new spin-off, Hawker, opened late last year in the CBD.
While Mamak introduces Malaysia’s Indian-inspired rotis and curries to the masses, Hawker is all about noodles. “Hawker gives us the opportunity to present a whole new side of Malaysian food,” says Lee . “The main thing we want to do is present Malaysian-Chinese food the way it is in Malaysia. The focus is really on noodles, because that’s a big part of what the Chinese people eat there.”
Much like its older sibling, the menu at Hawker is simple and focused, something Lee says the Mamak brand is now known for. “We’re trying to do what Mamak did for roti,” says Lee. “The menus are completely different, no items are repeated at either restaurant,” he adds.
They’ve also recreated the buzzing environment of a Malaysian hawker centre (an open-air food court) using timber stools instead of plastic chairs and high ceilings to give it that airy vibe.
Customers can tuck into a rarely spotted dish of grilled stingray and char koay teow the way it’s served in Penang, using the right spice levels and cockles instead of the more mainstream chicken substitute. If Hawker proves anything, it’s that there’s no replacement for authenticity.
Shop G.02 345B–343 Sussex Street, Sydney
(02) 9264 9315
Mon to Sun 11.30am–2.30pm, 5.30pm–10pm