I was so excited to try when Tasia and Gracia opened up their restaurant – Makan on Collins St. In the heart of the busy CBD, they are situated inside the building. I go to code black for coffee all the time, and there is Makan hidden in the corner. I can see why it’s a bit hard to find for those who don’t work or know the area. But I had it all sorted…
We booked for a table of three on a Friday night – 6:30pm. When we arrived there weren’t many guests, and thought we didn’t need to book after all. It got very busy by 7pm. There were many large tables and most were young adults (uni students and workers). Service was good, we were well looked after and didn’t need to wait for anything. Had to return the table by 8pm. Setting was modern – lighting was perfect to take some beautiful foodie snaps.
I ordered a drink with condensed milk and pandan. A bit surprised on the colour being pink but tasted nice after stirring the condensed milk at the bottom. A little fizzy but not over the top like soft drinks. I felt it had more raspberry than pandan. It was definitely a good pallete cleanser for the spicy food I was about to eat!
Under the small plates, we ordered the fried chicken ribs with chilli and sweet soy glaze, $15. It was super crunchy outside and warm inside. What stood out for me was the sweet soy glaze. When it’s got chilli under their menu description, you have to trust them. Tasia and Gracia are known for the spicy sauces. And it was… spicy but delicious! It does make me feel disappointed that I can’t eat a lot of it.
Then came, Fried crepe roll with chicken filling, tangy peanut sauce, $12. I really enjoyed this one, nicely folded crepe and fried with the filling broken into very small pieces. C wished it was bigger chucks of chicken, where J and I felt it was fine. It is a filling and didn’t mind the mushy texture – it was rather easier to chew. The sauce again was good – thankfully it wasn’t spicy.
For Mains, we ordered Braised semur oxtail, green papaya, carrots, thick beef broth, $27. Another spicy friendly dish. Their oxtail was so tender that C and J agreed it was the best. Even the carrots were nice and soft – although the sauce wasn’t infused with the flavour.
Under the large plates, we ordered their Balinese Pork Shank, sambal matah in bumbu genes broth, $29. Pork shank was huge and found it a challenge to cut from the bone. The pork was seasoned by itself but also needed some sauce to make it less dry on the mouth. I didn’t know what bumbu genep broth was, but it was nice with the shank. Their little side dish, sambal matah (capsicum and fried shallots) was so good, it was like the cantonese salt and pepper seasoning on crispy chicken spare ribs. Only a hint of spice here, and I could eat that non-stop.
After all the meat, we had to order some Kangkung, shrimp paste sambal with roasted peanuts, $16. It was good but adding the tomatoes made the dish rather moist and took away the wok taste. It was probably much healthier than the standard kangkung with shrimp paste and chilli, but I prefer stronger wok flavours. The peanuts sprinkled on top added a nice texture. We did request less chilli on the dish, and I think they took away the chilli completely – whoops!
Never had Red Rice before, $5 – it was good, slightly coarse compared with other types of rice. I had many sauces on the table to choose from to mix it with my rice.
We were so full from our mains that we struggled for dessert. We managed to order one Cendol panna cotta, jackfruit, pandan tapioca pearls palm sugar and coconut foam, $13 to share.
It looked so pretty in presentation. The panna cotta was a bit harder than the normal jelly like panna cottas, but I didn’t mind it. Tapioca added so much surprise to each bite. Each scoop I found all sorts of colourful surprises, the jackfruit and panna cotta elements were my favourite. The three of us didn’t think the coconut foam lifted the dish. We would have preferred something cold like ice-cream/sorbet or even nothing at all. This is because the coconut foam was slightly warm in room temperature that it felt a little out of place when having a spoonful of everything. Toasted coconut flakes was a good addition
For those who don’t know “Makan”, it means “eat” in Malay or “food” in other definitions, and I love the restaurant name. I grew up with a few Indonesian and Malaysian friends, so I felt the name was absolutely homely.
And yes, by the end of the night, we saw Tasia and Gracia greeting their guests. Knowing that your dish was cooked or observed by the ones you came for just adds the extra satisfaction to your night out. Thank you Tasia and Gracia!
The Verdict: The dishes are made to share, like home-cooked asian style. Prices are reasonable especially their small & large menu. Similar to what we saw in their strengths at the MKR competition, their strengths are savoury. Sweets are super creative but could be fine tuned a little more. I’d recommend trying Makan not because they are winners of MKR, but they have a unique mission, and that’s their sauces…
Location: 360 Collins St, Melbourne CBD