Location: A-4604 12 Street NE
In Calgary, there aren’t that many Malaysian restaurants. This is the second one I’ve been to, the first being Banana Leaf (not to be confused with the one in Vancouver, which is also amazing). Unlike Banana Leaf, which is more well known, Mamak Dang isn’t and therefore a lot quieter. It’s nice after a long and hectic day at work to sit down for some hearty, soul-warming Malaysian food. Tucked away in an industrial area, when we first pulled up, I had no idea where we were and completely missed the restaurant. When we walked in at about 6, the place was completely empty with the exception of the staff. We were promptly seated and presented with the menu. Though the menu isn’t extensive, it has plenty of options. My dad decided we were going to go with the dinner for four option. This allows for us to choose two appetizers, three mains, four bowls of rice, a choice of soup or salad, and two desserts.
We didn’t have to wait long for the appetizers to arrive. The first to come was the chili cheese fries, an appetizer the waiter had recommended. This defied all my expectations for chili cheese fries. In my mind, chili cheese fries are a take on poutine: fries with either chili powder or actual chili (like the bean and meat thing) doused in a creamy cheese sauce. This was not that. When the dish arrived I thought they looked like McCain crinkle cut fries sprinkled with chili powder served with mayonnaise, I couldn’t find the cheese anywhere. It turns out that it was a powdered cheese and chili seasoning mix sprinkled on the mayo and fries and was better than I expected. The curry fish balls arrived shortly after and they were as I expected. Curry fish balls are a staple street food in many Asian countries and these met my expectations, but didn’t exactly blow them away. The curry had just the right amount of heat and there was a good sauce to fish balls ratio. We had just finished the appetizers when the mains, soup, and salad arrived. First impression was that the mains were very small, but as I would find out it was more than enough. There had been four dishes to choose from, so we chose one of each type of meat: Rendang Beef, Coconut Pork, and Curry Chicken. The beef and chicken “curries” had full bodied flavours, but the pork was my favourite (because I absolutely love coconut). A fair warning though, if you don’t like onions (green, fried, white), this place probably isn’t good for you because there were onions in nearly every dish and the onions in the coconut pork dish were partially raw (which I didn’t mind because it provided a nice bite to the dish). The salad was overdressed with what tasted like ranch dressing. The pork bone/tonkotsu broth was fantastic. It’s creamy flavour is one of the best I’ve had. It could have done without the fried onions as they didn’t add anything to the dish. As for rice we chose to get two bowls of coconut rice and two bowls of saffron rice. The coconut rice was much more fragrant than it tasted, but still not bad though it could have done with a few coconut flakes mixed in for texture. However, the saffron rice was just a disappointment because it was more like the rice served with Hainan Chicken Rice than it was saffron rice (the rice was actually yellow but due to the lighting in the picture it looks white). Desserts were red bean and condensed milk rotis, also recommendations made by the waiter (we were gonna go with the coconut, but maybe it was a good thing we didn’t otherwise we’d end up with coconut overload). Both were sweet, but not overbearing. I preferred the condensed milk one over the red bean because, though I like red bean, it’s way overdone in Asian desserts. I also had to deal with cascading red beans falling out of the roti which was annoying. Although the condensed milk wasn’t much better as the viscous liquid kept running down my fingers.
I would say I’d definitely come back to this place to try out the main menu items like the Laksa, which I’ve fallen in love with after my trip to Vancouver and having tried it at Deer Gardens. Portion sizes are not to underestimated and price was decent. As far as accessibility, I’d say its doable, but the parking lot was a bit bumpy and could be annoying to traverse. I’d rate it a 3.5/5.