By Jay Clough
It’s a challenging time in the hospitality business; beloved venues are regularly opting to close rather than face the rising tide of expenses and overheads, with those forging ahead facing just as much uncertainty. When beloved Seddon stalwart Copper Pot poured its last glass of wine in October, chef Deb Ong took the opportunity to make a long-held dream a reality.
It comes in the form of Masak Masak, where the flavours of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia inspire the menu. Taking over the space vacated when local favourite Butcher128 closed this past November, Masak Masak inherits the former butcher shop’s lofty ceilings and expansive undercover courtyard. Located on Roberts Street on the edge of Cruickshank Park, Masak Masak offers this sect of Yarravillains, already spoiled by Rocco’s Delicatessen, another excellent coffee and dining option.
A Sarawak Laksa, available in two sizes, breathes new life into what many expect from a cafe breakfast menu. Aromatic and gently spiced, the restorative, light broth is generously darted with tender shredded chicken, prawns and omelette, and should become a cult favourite for Inner Westsiders battling hangovers. The ‘Roti-John’, a sort of egg sandwich spiked with luxurious braised lamb shoulder, is lifted with lashings of spicy aioli and fresh herbs; it’s an immersive, indulgent experience. Less successful is the Pork Bellied, Masak’s take on the banh mi; stuffed with crispy twice-cooked pork belly, it tasted of quality ingredients, but lacks the heft, generosity and flavour that most will expect from this style of sandwich.
Coffee from Blackburn based roastery Symmetry is on point, and Masak Masak showcases premium Melburnian producers like Ratio Cocoa and Monk’s Chai. Another drawcard in Masak Masak’s favour is their selection of desserts, harkening back to Ong’s childhood; a creamy sago pudding, drizzled with palm sugar syrup and dressed with coconut cream and fresh mango, is reason enough to return. The excitement in the venue is palpable, a sense of rebirth and renewal in the air; it may be a challenging time for the industry, but Masak Masak shows us brighter days lie ahead.
128 Roberts Street, Yarraville