How lucky are we in Sydney to be able to taste so many cultures? Within an hour’s radius of the city centre, we have access to scrumptious and authentic ethnic cuisines. For Vietnamese, there’s Cabramatta, Bankstown, Marrickville or Surry Hills; for Indonesian, there’s Randwick or Kingsford; for Korean there’s Campsie, Eastwood and Strathfield, for Turkish or Lebanese, it’s Auburn and Bankstown; for Thai it’s Newtown; for Portuguese it’s Petersham and for Greek, it’s Brighton Le Sands.
When it comes to Malaysian though, I will admit that before Mamak opened on Goulburn Street, I didn’t know what roti was.
So thanks to Mamak, I can truly appreciate Malaysian restaurants such as Temasek, Kammadhenu, Makan at Alice’s… and events like Malaysia Festival.
Malaysia Festival 2009 was on 27th September and is in it’s third year running. The idea behind it is that it was created by Malaysian students studying in Sydney who needed a taste of home away from home. It also allows Sydney-siders to experience the wonderful essence of hawker food stalls in a warm outdoor setting.
It was the perfect opportunity to laze on Tumbalong Park‘s grass with good friends and good food.
With seven mouths to feed, we went into strategy mode and split up into pairs. While some of us queued at different stalls, others did the research and snooping to see what else we should be having.
Within about an hour (yes, a long time because we arrived at the lunch peak), we all met back on the grass to present our treasures.

MFest 2009 (Malaysian food festival in Sydney) - Mamak's satay chicken stick skewers in a takeaway box
Mamak’s satay chicken sticks

At the Mamak stall, we had their satay chicken sticks, nasi lemak and roti telur bawang , which is the egg omelette and onion roti.

MFest 2009 (Malaysian food festival in Sydney) - Mamak stall, nasi lemak and roti
Mamak’s nasi lemak and roti telur bawang (egg omelette and onion roti)

At the Penang Hawker stall, we saw the transformation of some simple ingredients into a fragrant char koay teow (fried flat noodles) or char koay kak (fried radish cake). The crucial flavour, coming from fresh eggs and this jar of sambal.

MFest 2009 (Malaysian food festival in Sydney) - ingredients, sauces, sambal bottle and eggs
Cooking essentials including sambal jar and eggs

Across at the Hometown Recipe stall, fresh apam balik ($7 for 2) were being made. These are a popular pancake which are pan-cooked, filled with creamed corn and nuts and turned over to form a crisp snack.

MFest 2009 (Malaysian food festival in Sydney) - apam balik pancake in the making
Apam balik (sweet pancake turnover) in the making

Then at Cafe Kasturi, we drooled as we eyed the chicken skewers on the grill and are convinced we need a dozen chicken satay sticks (6 for $8) and 2 containers of assorted sweet Malay kueh cakes and puddings ($1.20 each or a container of 5 for $5).

MFest 2009 (Malaysian food festival in Sydney) -  Cafe Kasturi stand and satay chicken sticks
Cafe Kasturi’s satay chicken skewers

Cafe Kasturi‘s chicken satay sticks were significantly larger than at Mamak and the satay sauce was as rich and nutty. However, an addition of diced cucumber would have been refreshing with the chunky cuts of Spanish onion and ketupat (rice cakes).
Our selection of sweet Malay kuey were delicious. There were lovely pandan aromas, different textures ranging from soft glutinous pudding to the firm and chewy. My favourite was the kuih ketayap which is a crepe wrapped like a small spring roll and filled with grated coconut and palm sugar.

MFest 2009 (Malaysian food festival in Sydney) - Malay Kuey sweet cakes at Cafe Kasturi stand
Cafe Kasturi’s sweet Malay kueh cakes and puddings

At the Kuali stall, we were tempted by the sound of a durian panna cotta but end up with the classic sago gula melaka which are sago pearls served with palm sugar and coconut milk. We also have the beef rendang which comes with some delectable pickled vegetables and a fragrant biryani rice. The rojak was soggy by the time we ate it.

MFest 2009 (Malaysian food festival in Sydney) - Sago pudding, Beef Rendang and Rojak at Kuali stall
Kuali’s sago gula melaka (sago pearls pudding with palm sugar), beef rendang with biryani rice and rojak

While in the Kuali queue, my nose took me on a journey to Sally’s Kitchen‘s coconut rice. And so I bought a beef nasi lemak which was as good as its smelt.

MFest 2009 (Malaysian food festival in Sydney) - Beef rendang with nasi lemak coconut rice
Sally Kitchen’s beef rendang with nasi lemak and coconut rice

We also attempted the longest queue which was at Penang Hawker for their char kway teow but unfortunately had to ask for a refund after they recognised that they had taken more orders than manageable -which is to our relief as by this stage, we were already stuffed silly.

MFest 2009 (Malaysian food festival in Sydney) - friends sitting on grass enjoying the festival and sharing food
My beautiful friends, Sham, Jordan and Kat at the festival with me

This will have to be one of my most favourite food festivals in Sydney, simply because the concept of sharing food and culture with these Malaysian international students is so heart-warming. Keep an eye out for other upcoming food festivals in the I Ate My Way Through forums.
Where can you find the same food I’ve eaten here?
Mamak
15 Goulburn St, Haymarket
Web: www.mamak.com.au
Phone: (02) 9211 1668
Kuali
1st Floor, Lane Cove Arcade
115 Longueville Road, Lane Cove
Web: www.kuali.com.au
Phone: (02) 9418 6878
Cafe Kasturi
767-769 George Street, Sydney
Web: www.valentineongeorge.com/cafekasturi
Phone: (02) 9288 9888

P.S. Congratulations to the winners of our Julie & Julia Mastering the Art of French Food-Blogging competition!

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Jennifer is the founding blogger of I Ate My Way Through (originally, Jenius.com.au). Growing up in the multicultural melting pot of SydneyÔÇÖs Inner West as a second generation Australian (of Vietnamese refugee parents of Teochew Chinese ancestry), Jen has always had a deep curiosity about global cuisines, culinary heritage and the cultural assimilation of immigrants. For Jen and her family, food is always at the centre of all celebrations, life events and milestones. A lover of the finer things in life, as well as cheap eats, her blogging ethos is all about empowering and inspiring people to expand their culinary repertoire. When not running her two companies (she is also the Managing Director of The Bamboo Garden online marketing agency), Jen can be found exploring old-world charms at vintage markets and delving into local eats around the world. She has a weakness for fried chicken.
  • Sabrina Hanim

    Hi!
    Thanks for the wonderful blog post on MFest ­čÖé It was actually our 19th year running. Do come again next year for our 20th!

  • Hey – wow I love Malaysian food, too bad I missed this – the dishes look great! Still can’t believe you know Jordan too – such a small world.

  • Meg

    Sabrina, I’m keen to connect with passionate home-cooks cooking authentic Malaysian food in Sydney – if you can assist please email me: [email protected]

  • charis

    does the hometown malaysia stall have an actual shop I want the buy the apam balik ­čśÇ