Review: Makan, Chatswood

Even though I’m still relatively new to Malaysian food as I didn’t start properly trying it until I started dating K who is half-Malaysian, I’ve been lucky enough to only go to decent Malaysian restaurants in the past few years. Sambal in North Ryde is one of his family’s favourite restaurants, and we also regularly go to Mamak, PappaRich, and now Chef Rasa Sayang in Chatswood, which are also fantastic.

I’ve never had the misfortune of dining at a sub-par Malaysian restaurant, which is why I was so shocked and disappointed by my visit to Makan, in the new stretch of shops and restaurants outside Chatswood Train Station. In hindsight, I should have known that the visit wasn’t going to deliver anything amazing – in addition to the Malaysian dishes on their menu, Makan also included things like “chicken and chips” and “burger with the lot”…as un-Malaysian as you can get! Yet, I still didn’t expect to be as disappointed as I ended up being.

Hainan Chicken Rice, $13.50
Hainan Chicken Rice, $13.50

K’s Hainan Chicken Rice wasn’t flavoured the way you would normally expect. Instead of the rice having cooked in flavourful home-made chicken broth, taking in all those flavours, it was more like the rice had been cooked in three parts water, one part Campbell’s packaged chicken broth. It kind of defeats the purpose of chicken rice!

Sar Hor Fun, $13.50
Sar Hor Fun, $13.50

My sar hor fun was similarly utterly devoid of anything remotely approaching flavour. It wasn’t that the intensity of the flavour wasn’t strong enough, it was literally that it was so bland that there was no flavour whatsoever, and it definitely didn’t have the smokey “wok hei” that you expect from these dishes. The only enjoyment that I got out of this dish was in the fried scallions on top, and the little bit of flavour in the fish cakes. Even adding a bit of chilli and sweet soy from K’s chicken rice to this dish didn’t help it at all.

Teh Tarik and Kopi Tarik, $3.50 each
Teh Tarik and Kopi Tarik, $3.50 each

I never turn down a teh tarik, so ordered one to go with my lunch. I asked the waitress who took our order to make it “less sweet”, a request that other Malaysian restaurants are able to handle quite easily by simply not using as much condensed milk. Makan on the other hand, took what had clearly been a pre-prepared batch of teh tarik and watered it down to make it less sweet, simultaneously destroying any of the rich milkiness that you would expect to find in a good teh tarik.

All in all, Makan was truly one of the blandest meals I’ve ever had. Completely contrary to the strong and bold flavours that I’ve become used to with Malaysian cuisine, their offerings will never entice me back for a second meal. Very disappointing.

Makan Food on Urbanspoon

8 thoughts on “Review: Makan, Chatswood”

  1. What a shame this place wasn’t good! Those are two of my favourite dishes, but those versions look pretty poor. Hopefully you’ll be able to find a better version of them somewhere!! :)

    1. Actually, I tend to prefer things on the simpler side – so me calling the food at Makan tasteless and bland is actually quite a big statement. My husband who prefers more intense flavours didn’t even bother finishing his meal because he definitely couldn’t be bothered with the tastelessness of his meal. Not to mention the watery teh tarik…

  2. Interesting, I absolutely love their rendang, and its the only Chatswood-area Malaysian place that confirms that they DON’T use MSG… maybe that’s why it seems blander to you, as Mamak and their ilk use MSG (confirmed by chef and waiter, their sauces imported from Malaysia contain it).

  3. Their Milo Ice (ais) was as good as I’ve tasted in Malaysia, sweet and thick, unlike the usual watery stuff they serve here (and in some places in Malaysia and Singapore as well). Roti was a bit undercooked and chewy, but still better than the disappointment that is Mamak (what do people see in that place?). Nasi lemak was okay, but could have done with some acar and lacked something. At least the sambal was nice. Curry chicken was disappointing, but that’s also the same as many places these days (my Malaysian wife makes the best). It’s an unpretentious place (unlike Mamak and Papparich), and quite convenient for commuters so I hope it stays.

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