One of the things I love most about Twitter is being able to connect with chefs, cooks and other food lovers from all over the world. I’ve been tweeting Jackie M for quite a while now. I’d heard so many wonderful things about her food and thought it was about time I headed over to Concord to check out her restaurant.
Born in Malaysia to Hakka-Chinese parents, Jackie reluctantly moved to Australia with her parents in 1984, completed a university degree in languages and became an IT consultant. It was only when Jackie became frustrated with the lack of good Malaysian food available in Australia that she decided to move into the restaurant business, in 2001.
Jackie is my kind of person – no bullshit, she says it how it is. And I like that. Jackie is brilliant, strong and a rather amazing woman. Not only is Jackie running her restaurant and stalls at farmer’s markets, she’s also spending as much time as possible in the ICU with her sick little bub, Noah. Jackie is inspirational, I really don’t know how she does it.
It was finally time to head over to Concord to check out Jackie’s restaurant. So on Thursday night, my brother Kieran, his girlfriend Rae, Dylan and I headed to Concord for a feast.
Malaysian Coffee and Tea ($3.50 each).
I can’t believe it has taken me so long to discover Malaysian coffee. I’ve had Malaysian tea before (teh tarik) but never before gone for the coffee. Well, I don’t think I will ever order tea ever again. The Malaysian coffee (kopi tarik) was piping hot, milky sweet coffee that warmed me from the inside out. My regular coffee order is a latte with no sugar as I love the coffee hit without the sweetness, but if you know what to expect with Malaysian coffee the milky sweetness is a beautiful thing.
Roti Canai – Flaky flat bread with choice of dips ($7.50).
Is there anyone out there who doesn’t like roti canai? In all seriousness, surely there can’t be? If it is on the menu I simply have to order it, it’s just one of those things that should be in my life. Jackie M makes roti from scratch every day. It’s light and fluffy, buttery, flaky and utterly moreish. There is a choice of sides to go with the bread of which we chose warming dahl, which was also accompanied by the usual fare of sambal belacan.
Rojak – Penang style fruit & vegetable salad with a prawn-paste dressing, yow char kway (fried dough stick), crushed peanuts and toasted sesame seeds ($15.00).
Moving on to the only cold dish we ordered – rojak. It was my first time trying this Malaysian salad comprised of pineapple, cucumber and fried bread sticks dressed in a thick sweet, sour and spicy shrimp-paste sauce and topped off with crushed peanuts and toasted sesame seeds. What I loved most about the salad was the different textures – the crunchiness from the fruit and vegetables against the fluffy puffs of fried bread.
Otak–Otak – Grilled spicy fishcake wrapped in banana leaf ($8.50 for 2 pieces).
Malaysian expat Rae tells us that ‘otak’ means brains in Indonesian and Malay, and how when she was little she never wanted to eat Otak-Otak thinking it was brains. I can assure you there are no brains in this dish, though Google tells me the dish did in fact get its name from its appearance somewhat resembling brains (I don’t see it? Perhaps it’s the soft spongy [for lack of a better word] texture?) Origination and translation aside, Otak-Otak is one of my favourite Malaysian starters. It’s essentially a fish cake that is wrapped in a banana leaf and grilled over a charcoal fire, BBQ or other form of high heat. What makes a good fish cake are the spices added to the fish. Jackie’s version is redolent of kaffir lime leaves and fried shallots. It’s mighty fine.
Char Kway Teow – Stir-fried fresh rice noodles with garlic, beansprouts, chives & egg ($14.00 with the option to add chicken for $4.00 and/or prawns, calamari & fishcake for $6.00).
Jackie’s CKT is something I have heard a lot about on Twitter. It was a must order. One of the biggest let downs with CKT (or any noodle stir-fry for that matter) is the lack of char or ‘wok breath’ but I had heard Jackie makes a mean CKT. There is an option to add chicken or seafood and we opted for the seafood. The dish arrived at the table with steam coming off it and the most amazing aroma. As we all dug in there were nods and smiles of appreciation. Yes the noodles were charred and flavoursome, Jackie had nailed the ‘wok breath’ factor. The addition of seafood took the dish to the next level, and I was stoked with the calamari in particular – there was no sign of rubbery, tough calamari here, just fresh rings of goodness. My favourite dish of the night.
Beef Rendang – Juicy chunks of beef slow-cooked in a thick, dark, spicy curry ($17.00) with Coconut Rice ($3.50 per bowl).
Dylan and I had cooked up Jackie’s hot rendang curry at home a few weeks ago (those take home curry pastes are fantastic) so we knew to expect a whole heap of awesomeness. A rich, spicy dark curry, rendang has got to be one of my favourites. The beef rendang at Jackie M is quite mild – it has a slight kick to it but won’t scare off those who can’t handle the heat. Big chunks of beef are tender and juicy. The coconut rice is the perfect partner for the rich curry.
Taugeh Goreng – Beansprouts stir fried with tofu, garlic & preserved radish ($9.00).
Oh boy was I getting full by this stage and totally regretting my choice of attire – really, who wears jeans to dinner?! Rookie error. Crunchy beansprouts and soft, pillowy squares of tofu were moreish. But as I was so full I didn’t get to pay our last main as much attention as it deserved. Definitely ordering this next time. And not wearing jeans.
We were all absolutely stuffed. Rae and I didn’t want to say no to dessert but in reality we just couldn’t fit any more in. Of course that just means we need to head back soon. After all I still need to try the ayam goreng, chicken satay, nasi lemak, banana roti and maybe even a durian smoothie… one day!
Jackie M Malaysian Cuisine
85 Majors Bay Road
Concord NSW 2137
(02) 9743 0390
Jackie M Malaysian Cuisine Website