Mamak Dang Fusion Malaysian Cuisine
By Bob Keelaghan

Malaysian Spices and Asian Pop Culture

Combine Malaysian street foods such as satay skewers, laksa soups and beef rendang with influences from China and Thailand, plus throw in a bit of Asian pop culture, and you have Mamak Dang Malaysian Fusion Cuisine. Malaysian restaurants are a rarity in Calgary, so sampling the spicy food at Mamak Dang requires a trip to an unassuming northeast location to taste its spicy south Asian fare.

The name is an Asian pop music reference. “In Malaysia there is a singer who has a song called ‘Mamak Dang.' It means the mum’s store,” co-owner Alvin Ng explains as he talks about opening the restaurant in July, 2014. He interprets the song as a story of a working class family starting an extra business to augment their income. Decorative stars and LED lights hang from the ceiling of the dining room and Asian pop music wafts through the restaurant's speakers. One might hear a Malaysian rendition of Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry.” Its youthful and somewhat quirky atmosphere as well as Alvin's gregarious nature give the place its own unique charm.

Even in Malaysia, in different cities, they have different tastes. In one city you might like the laksa. In another city, the taste is not like you are used to. - Alvin Ng, co-owner
Malaysian food, beef rendang, laksa, shaved ice, curry, crayfish
One of Mamak Dang Fusion Malaysian Cuisine's bestselling dishes is satay chicken skewers served with homemade peanut sauce.

Fusing Cross-Border Influences in Malaysian Food

Though hailing from the Malaysian province of Negeri Sembilan, Alvin cut his culinary teeth in Japanese restaurants after moving to Canada. He and a couple of partners decided to give the restaurant business a go on their own. Alvin returned to making the food of his homeland, going so far as modifying his aunt’s recipe for laksa, a hearty Malaysian coconut noodle soup made with seafood, pork or beef. Alvin makes his own unique, Calgary recipe, explaining that Malaysian food is marked by regional variations. “Even in Malaysia, in different cities, they have different tastes. In one city you might like the laksa. In another city, the taste is not like you are used to. Also, Malaysian cuisine is influence by Indian, Thai, Chinese and Indonesian cuisine.”

Consequently, Mamak Dang makes the popular beef rendang served with roti. Traditionally a dry beef dish, Mamak Dang prepares it as more of a stew with Asian spices and hints of lime and coconut, served with roti flat bread. It's a fluffier version than its Indian counterpart. Elsewhere on the menu, one finds influences from south Asia. Among the soups there is Chinese wor wonton and Thai tom yum. The dinner menu features crayfish, popular among Chinese Canadian customers.

Malaysian food, beef rendang, laksa, shaved ice, curry, crayfish
Beef Rendang is a Malaysian specialty, here served with Mamak Dang's roti flatbread.

When Ice Cream Meets Manga

For afters, it is a toss up between the shaved ice and the deep fried ice cream. The Malaysian dessert delicacy ABC (ais batu campur) shaved ice is made with coconut milk, coconut sugar and syrup. The deep fried ice cream is made in the style of popular Japanese and Malaysian versions:  coated in fine bread crumbs, cut into little wedges, crispy on the outside, and cold and sweet inside.

Malaysian food, beef rendang, laksa, shaved ice, curry, crayfish
Mamak Dang Fusion Malaysian Cuisine is located just off McKnight Boulevard on 12th Street Northeast.
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