Thursday, July 19, 2012

One night only: Jackie M pops up in Waterloo

I've been wanting to visit the restaurant of Sydney's undisputed Malaysian cuisine queen, Jackie M for some time, so it was an easy Friday night choice when she decided to come (closer) to me with a one-night pop-up restaurant in Waterloo.

In conjuction with Eat.Drink.Give., the pop-up signalled Jackie's return to the burners after a few months away from the kitchen so it was a pleasure to see the radiant, smiling chef in action.

Jackie M at the pop-up restaurant at Bocata Spanish Deli, Young Street, Waterloo
With the tropical smell of durian filling the air as we walked into the cleared-out restaurant space, there was an ambitious and authentic menu for the standing-only pop-up venue with cheap beverages offered by Bocata.

I would never have known that the Spanish pilsner Estrella Damm was a perfect match to the multitude of spices and flavours of Malaysian food, but I do now thanks to the pop-up.

Ayam goreng - fried chicken drumettes
While lighting was an issue, the fried chicken drummettes weren't; being a perfect starter for beer-in-hand eating. The succulent chicken flesh was second only to the fanstastic array of spices, including lemongrass and turmeric, in the crispy, well- tanned coating.

There was also a Penang-style rojak salad as a starter featuring small pieces of fruit and vegetable in a very thick prawn paste and peanut sauce.

Otak otak - grilled fish cake
I have a bit of a thing for Malaysian otak otak which is famous in Muar in the south of Malaysia. This version, half-wrapped and stapled in banana leaf, was a little oily to the touch but had all the desirable, intricate herb and spice flavours layered into the smooth fish paste.

I'm certain I could have polished off an entire platter of these little packages of deliciousness; ideally with beer on the side in sweltering Malaysian heat. I'll take what I can get with otak otak but Jackie M's version rates.

Tempoyak Udang (prawn sambal with durian) with Kerabu Taugeh
(bean sprout salad) and coconut rice
Of the more substantial dishes doing the rounds of the room, the very fragrant tempoyak udang was served with a fresh bean sprout salad and coconut rice. The heavy durian smell was surprisingly not strong on the palate and almost didn't have any nastiness about it at all (this from a durian non-lover).

Indeed, I could almost see the appeal of durian, especially in this sweet style sambal sauce with tail-on prawns and coconut rice. It got Dan Hong's approval too.

The refreshing and crunchy bean sprout salad, tossed with coconut and and belacan shrimp paste, was delightful on its own and to combat the heat of the sambal.

Jackie M at the wok
The great smells continued all night as Jackie M manned the fiery outdoor wok, with smoky aromas of her popular char kway teow wafting throughout the insides of the restaurant.

I may have scoffed it before remembering to take a photo, but the char kway teow featured soft rice noodles, prawns, squid and mussels along with egg, bean sprouts, chives and proper smokiness from the wok.

I can't not look forward to cendol as it's one of my favourite Asian desserts - none too sweet, rich nor filling. The balance of palm sugar syrup and coconut milk with the green-hued mung bean jelly noodles is dessert perfection.

The pop-up restaurant wasn't quite the full experience of Jackie M's repertoire but certainly a great introduction. I'm sure the 'one night only' pop-up is going to turn into many more visits at Jackie M's actual restaurant and market appearances.


Mel said...

I LOVE Jackie M's's worth a trip to the restaurant (she has Durian there too...shudder)! LOL.

sugarpuffi said...

jackie m makes some mean malaysian!

Vivian - vxdollface said...

the boy would have loved the durian sambal! i on the other hand cannot stand the stench but the food jackie m dishes up is pretty good

gastronomous anonymous said...

durian sambal sounds delicious! shame i couldnt make it - would have loved to go!

Anonymous said...

oh no... i love all the food ..

Sara @ Belly Rumbles said...

Jackie M is the queen of Malaysian cuisine!

anita said...

I'm so jelly!!
Wish I could've made it T_T

Tina said...

Hi Miss Piggy - Yup, it's on the (ever-lengthening) list:)

Hi sugarpuffi - She sure does. And I think she's nicer than she lets on ;)

Hi Vivian - I don't like durian at all but I rather liked the prawn sambal dish. A turning point perhaps?

Hi gastronomous anonymous - The sambal was a complete surprise - i was expecting to hate it...

Hi Sara - Sure is ;)

Hi Anita - lol, and jelly you should be!

Flick Your Food said...

You can tell a great chef, when all the patrons are not scared away knowing the durian will be featured in a meal. Glad it was over powering

Tina said...

I didn't know there was going to be durian but I'm sure glad I tried the sambal - delicious!


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