19 March 2012

Minum: Malaysian & Café, Martin Place, Sydney (6, 9, 10 Feb 2012)

38B Martin Place, Sydney NSW 2000

Malaysian with an identity crisis

On the surface I think Minum isn't doing themselves any favours with the abundance of ‘Map Italian Coffee’ signs plastered around the cafe if they want to promote their Malaysian cuisine — I seriously thought the place was called Map Italian Coffee but it’s the coffee beans they use. My work colleague noticed they had introduced a Malaysian tapas menu and daily specials so I was tempted to check them out. On the first visit my expectations were so low that I actually questioned myself and the owner Penny why I would bother trying their laksa. Seeing hardly anyone dining, the higher price and the strong feeling it was more a coffee cafe certainly played on my mind. Finding out they make their own laksa from fresh ingredients on the day was the deciding factor to try it and I’m glad I did. My decent sized Combination Laksa ($13.80) had good depth of flavour with decent sized deveined prawns. The chicken that was fairly moist and there was a good selection of fishcake, tofu and even boiled egg. With a bit of requested fresh lime to squeeze on top it became one of the better laksas I’ve had in the CBD. Providing table service with nicer décor than a food court might justify the higher price for some.

The second visit brought me back to try more of their daily menu specials. The Beef Rendang ($12.80) could have been a bit more tender and wetter for my liking but had good flavour. I would have enjoyed a few slices of cucumber and tomato to help cut through the heaviness of the dish but I guess that wouldn’t be authentic. The Nasi Lemak ($13.80) came with coconut rice, boiled egg, pickled veg and chicken curry devil. I really enjoyed the eggs with chilli and I would have liked a bit more sambal or curry sauce on the dish for extra moisture. On my third visit I arranged with a few bloggers to try the Malaysian tapas so we had a chance to try a few things. Overall I preferred the daily specials menu but there were a few tapas I enjoyed more than others. I didn’t mind the tasty Roti ($2.80) but it was served flat and I much prefer the flakey puffed version of Mamak.

I quite liked the flavour of the Slow Braised Pork Marinated in Five Spice ($13.60, 2 serves) but it seemed to be a small portion for the price and I enjoyed the Butter Lemongrass Prawns ($15.60, 2 serves) with nice flavours and decent sized prawns but again pricey. The Lamb Cutlets with Spiced Coconut Crusts ($9.80) was tender and flavoursome as hoped but the coconut wasn’t working for me and made it a bit dry on the palate. I liked the Roti Jala ($7.80) of lacy crepe served with chicken curry which was more a dish to enjoy on its own perhaps but I haven't had it before and it seems looking at examples online the crepe should preferably be more net-like in presentation. Desserts were well-liked with Black Rice Pudding ($5.80) and Sago & Palm Sugar Pudding ($6.80) being served in martini glasses to add a little bit of class. The Grilled Pineapple with cinnamon ($2.80 per skewer) was sweet and tasty and would have gone nicely with some ice cream, perhaps pandan or coconut flavour. The Affogato ($4.50) might be one of the cheapest you’ll find in the CBD and it was pretty decent. For those dining in let Penny share her amazing talent for creating latte art of a face, your name or for those not offended a nude woman — no offence taken.

PROS: Laksa made from scratch with quality ingredients, Table service, Seating available away from the noise of a busy food court, Only having one dish of the day means they strive to do it well
CONS: You wouldn’t really know they served Malaysian dishes due to all the coffee signage — mixed messages, A bit pricier than you’re usual eateries, Kitchen service would be preferably quicker
MUST TRY: Laksa, Boiled eggs with chilli, Grilled pineapple with cinnamon (if they included ice cream), Requesting coffee art for your dine-in latte

Visited 6 Feb 2012
Chicken Laksa ($10.80)

Combination Laksa ($13.80)

A bit of fresh lime does wonders for the palate

Visited 9 Feb 2012
Beef Rendang served with coconut rice ($12.80)

Nasi Lemak with coconut rice, boiled egg, pickled veg and chicken curry devil ($13.80)

Loved the boiled eggs with chilli

Visited 10 Feb 2012
Lychee drink ($5.50), Coconut drink ($5.50), Grass Jelly drink ($5.50)

Roti ($2.80)

Tofu Sambat: Grilled Stuffed Tofu with Crunch Cucumber & Sweet Chilli Sauce ($8.80)

Tamarind Chilli Potatoes ($6.80)

Malaysian Satay Chicken ($8.80, plus extra stick $2)

BBQ Pork - Slow Braised Pork Marinated in Five Spice ($13.60, 2 serves)

Udang Serang Mentega: Butter Lemongrass Prawns ($15.60, 2 serves)

Otak Otak: Grilled Fish infused in Malaysian Spices ($8.80)

Lamb Cutlets with Spiced Coconut Crusts ($9.80)

Roti Jala - Lacy Crepe served with Chicken Curry ($7.80)

Pulut Hitam: Black Rice Pudding ($5.80), Sago Gula Melaka: Sago & Palm Sugar Pudding ($6.80)

Sago Gula Melaka: Sago & Palm Sugar Pudding ($6.80)

Pulut Hitam: Black Rice Pudding ($5.80)

Grilled Pineapple with cinnamon ($2.80 per skewer)

Affogato ($4.50)

Flat white with latte art face

Latte art with nude woman

– – –

Weekly specials menu (may change)

Malaysian tapas menu

Dessert and drinks menu

Cutlery and table setting

Takeaway coffee special after 12 pm — pretty cheap

Owner Penny (right) and her mum Sandra with the Malaysian tastebuds

Richard Elliot, Cupcakie Dolly, Cats Love Cooking and Me

Inside seating

Opening hours

Shopfront — I can easily see 'Map Italian Coffee' promoted but not 'Minum'

Stairs down to Minum from Martin Place


Unknown said...

looks like another great find Simon..cheers

gaby @ lateraleating said...

Laksas look great! You're right, the whole Italian coffee (including weird latte art) is confusing.

joey@forkingaroundsydney said...

I unfortunately found the roti jala here egregious; I've never seen worse crepe/"roti" in my life.

I'd be surprised if it lasts long, seeing as it's pretty much the only place that isn't busy on a Friday lunchtime.

Ramen Raff said...

Dude, I pass by this place everyday not realising they serve malaysian dishes! Just like you, I thought it was just another Italian cafe. Will have to try laksa & nasi lemak!

Richard Elliot said...

The laksa does look good, I might pop back to check it out if it is the star of the menu.

Anonymous said...

I am a Malaysian and i do know about this place but it doesn't even attracts me. I am pretty sure the roti they serve are the frozen roti which you can find in asian grocery store. The roti jala just doesn't looks right, it is supposed to be yellow colour. And the OTAK OTAK, THAT IS NOT OTAK OTAK!! OTAH is not some spices on the fish but small little pieces of fish inside spice paste!

Simon Leong said...

hi enzo, their laksa is my pick from the menu

hi gaby, i don't mind their fun latte art but they really need to brand themselves differently on the outside if they want to make people more aware of their Malaysian dishes

hi joey, after doing an online search it does look like their crepes should be much more net like but it's the first time i've had something like this so had nothing to compare it to so I quite liked it. But in terms of presentation and technique of the crepe it looks like it could be much more authentic. i think most people still think it's a coffee shop/cafe so don't expect to find any lunch options there. their laksa makes it on my top 5 in CBD.

hi ramen, let me know what you think of the laksa. might even join you if i'm free.

hi richard, hope you get to try it one day when you have the time.

hi anonymous, i wouldn't be surprised if the roti is store bought as it doesn't have that freshly made quality you get with Mamak — although no one seems to do it better than Mamak. I was thinking the same thing about the otak otak and I'm more used to the version that is minced fish meat and spieces and cooked in a banana leaf over coals which I prefer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otak-otak but it could be their modern take on the dish as the menu says grilled fish, although perhaps calling it otak-otak is misleading.

The Concealer (Paula) said...

Simon, I went to have lunch there today and unfortunately the food was very bland. I had the Rendang, Satay and Curry Puffs. The Satay was the best of the lot.

Simon Leong said...

hi paula, that's a shame about the rendang as i found it quite good but it's the laksa but i've enjoyed the most from this place so far which is the main thing i'd recommend.

Anonymous said...

Hi Simon,
Had the laksa (combination) today, unfortunately flavor and depth was a miss for me, maybe the lack of coconut milk and spices? On a positive note, there was a generous amount of prawn & chicken.

Anonymous said...

Like the person above,I have to disageee with you Simon.

I dropped by on my lunch break to try their laksa after reading your urbanspoon review. It was really bland and I can't believe the rave reviews you've given it! Shocking that the dish has even made it to your 2012 top dishes list.

Simon Leong said...

hi anonymous 1 and 2, looks like i'll have to do a revisit and check it out again. it sounds like there might be a hit and miss on consistency. they're definitely not really set up to be a laksa house like Malay Chinese and Ipoh on York.

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