Thai comfort food in a speakeasy setting
Restauranteur and founded of JIA group, Yenn Wong, has recently opened a brand restaurant in The Landmark. The group that brought us Sassy favourites like Chachawan, 208 Duocentto Otto, 22 Ships and Aberdeen St. Social are welcoming ‘Mak Mak‘ into the family, and I couldn’t wait to try it out.
I’m a huge Chachawan fan, so I had high hopes for the second Thai venue for JIA group. That being said, unlike Chachawan, which focuses on the specific Issan cuisine of Northen Thailand, Mak Mak offers dishes from central Thailand that are perhaps more familiar worldwide. We’re talking Thai comfort dishes we all know and love like Pad Thai, Pomelo Salad, Tom Yum Goong and Green Curry, and an additional dedicated vegetarian menu too, in contrast to Chachawan’s meat heavy menu.
Located in one of Hong Kong’s fanciest and most centrally located shopping developments, Mak Mak can be a little tricky to find if you’re not a frequent shopper at Landmark (can’t say that I’m splashing cash at Harvey Nich’s every weekend). Tucked around an almost hidden corner on the second floor of The Landmark, the location adds to the whole retro, speakeasy style of the restaurant. At first it seems there is only a vintage looking Thai shopfront, but then the staff hit a button and the door slides back to reveal a warm, cosy space adorned with quirky yet modern touches. Sitting 60 people, this is the perfect spot for a casual lunch that will make you feel a world way from your office desk.
Four alcoholic cocktails are on offer at Mak Mak, and “The Tourist Trap” which I opted for certainly made me feel like I was on holiday with the little cocktail umbrella, grilled pineapple, coconut milk, toasted rice powder and sugarcane syrup. All cocktails and mocktails are influenced by Asian flavours and ingredients, so expect to find some pineapple, coconut and chilli rocking around in your drink!
With a fair range of dishes on offer, Mak Mak offers everything from curries and noodles, to satay and crab cakes. While the majority of the menu sticks to more well-known Thai fare, Chef Mumu manages to add a couple of inventive surprises, such as the Pla Salmon. The flash-grilled salmon was still soft and delicately pink, and tasted so fresh and light with the addition of the lemongrass and sweet basil.
Other starters that I enjoyed were the Crab and Prawn Cakes, which weren’t rubbery at all like some that I’ve had in the past. They were crispy on the outside and stuffed with rich crabmeat… comfort thai food at its best.
The Pomelo Salad was packed with Thai flavours – sweetness from the fruit, spiciness from the chillis, a sourness from the lime and a hint of saltiness from the fish sauce in the dressing. The contrast of textures with the flesh of the pomelo and crunch of the peanuts is ideal as a refreshing summer salad.
Mak Mak certainly caters well for vegetarians, and the “Mama Mumu’s Stir-Fried Tofu” dish was absolutely delicious. Usually I’m skeptical about tofu as it can be quite bland, but the garlic, Thai holy basil and stir-fry sauce gave this dish a punchy aroma.
The deep-fried king prawns wrapped in rice vermicelli were visually spectacular, and the prawns themselves were still so meaty and fresh despite crispy noodles wrapping.
One of the Thai dishes I never fail to crave is Tom Yum Goong Soup. Served over a heater, this hot and sour tiger prawn broth was a refined version of the warm and spicy soup we all know and love. Totally addictive with its distinctive sour notes, I would definitely order this again.
If you’re looking for Thai food that’s reliable and tasty, then Mak Mak is worth checking out if you’re in Central and need a cool but casual lunch. However, despite the freshness and quality of the food, the prices are rather high, especially as you can get the same type of Thai food in Central and Sheung Wan for half the price – curries range from $159 – $228, mains from $158 – $288, with salads from $108 – $158 and appetisers at $98 – $148. If you’re keen to check it out I would recommend stopping by for lunch and ordering some of light and delicious appetisers with a cocktail – it’s a good option if you’re in the Central area and want to try somewhere new.
Mak Mak, 217A, Landmark Atrium, 15 Queen’s Road, Central, Hong Kong, 2983 1003, www.facebook.com/makmakhongkong