Why you should try Sheffield’s Mak Tok offering authentic Malaysian cuisine founded by Dragons' Den winner Will Chew

As a Malaysian living in the UK for several years now, I always get random cravings for Malaysian food that is not readily available, particularly in Sheffield - despite its diversity.

Tuesday, 16th November 2021, 2:19 pm

I'd always have to seek out certain ingredients at Asian grocery stores across the city in order to duplicate the dishes I crave, but the results are never quite as wonderful.

However, when Sheffield-based Dragon Den winner and Mak Tok Founder Will Chew offered me to sample Malaysian cuisine at his new pop-up kitchen, I leaped at the chance.

Besides, who better to give honest meal critiques of Malaysian cuisine than a fellow Malaysian?

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Malaysian Fishcakes - tuna fishcakes served with Nyonya Sweet Chilli on the side.

His pop-up kitchen, which operated from 6pm on October 30, was launched at China Red restaurant on Rockingham Gate and drew a sizable crowd eager to sample Malaysian cuisine.

The first thing we noticed when we took our seats at our table was how busy it was, and that Will had personally cooked the food that was flowing out of the kitchen.

We were met by Shang, a co-founder of Mak Tok who also happens to be Will's cousin, who then gave us a summary of what was on offer and recommended that we order everything on the menu so that we could try everything on.

The first was Chicken Satay – three skewers of cut-up chicken thighs were marinated in Mak Tok Signature Sambal and grilled to perfection. In addition to the cucumbers and red onions, they came with a side of Spicy Peanut Sauce.

Curry Laksa - noodles in spicy coconut broth served with shredded chicken, prawns, boiled eggs, green beans, bean sprouts and tofu puffs.

Although they tasted mild from what I had growing up, the meat was tender and juicy, and the peanut sauce complemented it perfectly.

Following that were Malaysian fishcakes made from tuna and pan fried, served with Nyonya Sweet Chilli on the side.

The fishcakes reminded of 'Sata,' a traditional dish from a Malaysia’s east coast state consisting of seasoned fish meat wrapped in banana leaves and grilled.

However, they were a little too dry for my taste, but the sweet chilli saved the day.

The chicken satay was served with cucumbers, red onions, and Spicy Peanut Sauce on the side.

‘Lilke being transported back to Malaysia’

Next up was the show-stopper, Nasi Lemak with Beef Rendang served on a banana leaf. If you're unfamiliar, nasi lemak is Malaysia's national cuisine. It may be enjoyed throughout the day, but is typically eaten at breakfast.

The nasi lemak consists of fragrant rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf and its condiments include roasted peanuts, crispy anchovies, boiled eggs, cucumber slices and Mak Tok's Signature and Hot Fire Sambal.

Will's version also included beef rendang, which I found to be quite authentic, as it reminded me of the food I ate as a child. I could taste the ginger, galangal, turmeric, lemongrass, and chilli on the juicy meat with my first bite.

Nasi Lemak - fragrant coconut rice served with assorted condiments and traditionally spiced beef rendang.

Curry Laksa - egg noodles in a spicy coconut broth served with shredded chicken, prawns, hard-boiled eggs, green beans, bean sprouts, and tofu puffs - was the final item on the menu.

But I felt the broth to be a little too mild for my extreme tastes, but I'm guessing this was intentional to appeal to a wider audience.

Overall, it was truly an enjoyable experience as I briefly felt like I was being transported back to Malaysia.

Although Will has not announced his next pop-up kitchen, I hope one day he'd be able to open his own restaurant.