If you’ve been reminiscing about that bowl of curry laksa or hokkien mee during your last trip to Malaysia, you need not look any further. Instead of travelling hundreds of miles to Malaysia to taste authentic Chinese Malaysian fare, we’ve found you an easier option - Mabrown.
From modest beginnings as a word-of-mouth establishment in Balwyn, Mabrown has since attracted widespread attention and since expanded its empire to the CBD. The new store is located in Southern Cross Lane off Bourke Street. While the new CBD location hasn’t been around long, it has garnered quite a following. We visited on a Saturday night and the whole place was packed to the brim!
Deep-fried wok-tossed spicy quail
While many Chinese/Malaysian restaurants in Melbourne serve quail, Mabrown’s variety are a cut above. The allure of the Mabrown deep-fried wok-tossed spicy quail lies in the perfectly cooked and tender quail meat which is crusted with a flavoursome spice mix and then perfectly fried to achieve a moreishly crunchy exterior. The exterior is then slathered with a chilli sauce which is packed with umami and has, for our taste, the perfect amount of chilli heat. Mabrown’s quails are highly addictive and a must-order.
Drunken chicken - Chicken poached in Shao Xing wine and fragrant spices
The chicken was wonderfully tender and infused with a beautiful rice wine flavour - perfectly seasoned and well balanced. We loved the shot which was served on side which comprised a heady mix of Shao Xing wine and spices which we could liberally add to the dish to make it more “drunken”.
Yam & pork belly clay pot
The clay pot arrived full of glistening pork belly slices. It was a dish that evoked excitement upon its arrival. Each slice of pork belly comprised a layer of unadulterated, unctuous pork fat which exploded with intense porky goodness with each bite; it did not disappoint. Combined with a pleasant sweet marinade, and melt in your mouth morsels of yam, the pork belly was unquestionably accomplished in taste.
Wok tossed juicy prawns with shell in ginger and spring onion (served with thin egg noodles)
The prawns were very fresh and the herbs provided punchy fragrant flavours. It was yet another excellent dish that was complemented by the noodles which retained the natural sweetness of the prawns and exhibited a pleasant elasticity. Lightly flavoured by the gently aromatic ginger, the dish, boasted the characteristic charred flavour that normally accompanies a wok-tossed item. Delicious!
Deep fried barramundi fillet in archar sauce (sweet turmeric vinaigrette)
Noteworthy for its fragrant and complex broth which was appetisingly laced with a sufficient amount of sweet turmeric vinaigrette, the beautifully deep fried barramundi had us fighting for the last morsel.
Deep fried barramundi fillet in tom yum sauce (lemon grass, pink ginger, lime leaf)
The barramundi was again, perfectly fried and coated in a decadent tom yum sauce which showcased the customary punchy flavours exhibited by South East Asian dishes.
Mabrown is an absolute gem of a place for casual dining. With its superb execution of Chinese Malaysian cuisine and affordable pricing, there is no doubt that Mabrown will soon be firmly entrenched as a Melbourne dining institution.
Melbourne location: In Southern Cross Lane, 111 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Balwyn location: 190 Belmore Road Balwyn
Phone: 03 9663 3141 (CBD); 03 9816 3755 (Balwyn)
Cuisine: Chinese, Malaysian