Buford Highway restaurants are not known for being the sort of places where you have to wait forever and a day for a table, but Mamak, which opened in the same Doraville strip mall as Quoc Huong, Sweet Hut, and one of the Ming’s BBQ locations, in the space that was vacated by Fil-Am Star, was still really busy when we visited last month. We came by on a Sunday evening and had a 45-minute wait.
There’s an old saying among food lovers in Atlanta. Unless you want to wait, after John Kessler has reviewed a restaurant, give it a couple of months. I swear, the people in this town who don’t visit a place until and unless a glowing review has appeared in the AJC must number in the thousands.
We didn’t mind the wait at all as we had good company. We met up with our blogger friends Leslie from The Food and Me, and Andy and Jo from Burgers, Barbecue and Everything Else. Leslie had visited Mamak twice already and was raving about their beef rendang, so I wanted to try that, but we had lots to choose from. Mamak is Malay for “food stall,” and the menu features dishes common in Malaysia, Indonesia, and South China. They opened in mid-October and seem to be doing really well.
Our impression was that this was pretty good, but it’s honestly in the shadow of both Penang and Batavia, which serve similar food that we enjoy more. That’s not to suggest that Mamak set a foot wrong, just that we prefer some other nearby places. The beef rendang was quite good, seasoned perfectly and very flavorable. Marie ordered the fried pearl noodles with shrimp and pork to share with our three year-old and enjoyed them. They’re prepared in a very mild sauce, just a shade on the sweet side.
Opinions at the table were in a pretty wide range. I think that Leslie enjoyed her meal the most. Andy dug into fish-head soup and chicken feet but wasn’t really thrilled by them. Jo was most pleased with her remarkably interesting dessert smoothie – full of red bean paste and corn! – but overall I don’t believe any of us left excited, just satisfied.
It was a perfectly pleasing evening with good company and good flavors, but with Batavia within walking distance, and Andy explaining to me that one of the ways he keeps so fit is walking 10,000 steps every day, I couldn’t help but feel that walking over there for the even better roti canai, rendang, and sambal shrimp would be even more pleasing! I’ve been to Batavia four times now and always leave incredibly impressed. Still, I’m very glad that we tried this place, we had a fine evening with superb service, and we left resolved to dig into this street a little more. I wonder what we’ll find on Buford Highway next…
You can see all the restaurants that we have visited for our blog on this map, with links back to the original blog posts. It’s a terrific resource for anybody planning a road trip through the southeast!