Mak Mak scores full marks for imaginative design in recreating an Asian shophouse serving take-away Thai food to hungry Central Hong Kong workers. It raised a smile to find that one of the high shelves stacked with dried goods is the portal to a hidden restaurant beyond.
Once inside you could easily believe you were in an authentic street cafe, The walls are tiled in carefully chosen ‘old’ green tiles and, apart from the red of the napkins, the restaurant tends towards natural earthy colours.
On one side of the wall is a hint of the kitchen beyond, and lined with cabinets filled with decorative tins. Whilst it definitely feels an enclosed space, it’s concept and execution is imaginative and the effect quite charming.
The charm quotient extended to the manager. When faced with the gluten question he was as helpful as he possibly could be, running quickly through the ingredients each dish contained checking and double-checking with the kitchen.
Mostly it was good news. The only thing from our choice that had a question mark over it was the Tom Yam soup. He explained that this wasn’t because it directly contained gluten but the soy sauce it contained could be a problem.
Knowing that most soy sauces aren’t gluten-free, I opted to give it a miss rather than take the risk of a reaction, though that was a disappointment as for me it is one of the highlights of Thai cuisine and is normally safe for anyone who is gluten intolerant to eat. One of our party ordered it – and a mention of warning, it’s portion size (perhaps as it’s price) will indicate is enough for two. In case you are braver than me, and feel like chancing it, I have pictured it. By all accounts it was very good. One nice detail in connection with this dish is that it is served with a little burner underneath, a nice touch to keep the soup warm throughout the meal.
The green papaya salad initially pleased too, though the fish sauce was a little too salty and left an aftertaste that meant we would give it a miss another time. This led to comparisons of similar salads in other Thai restaurants in Hong Kong. We definitely felt Thai Basil won that contest.
Leading on to the pad thai, we felt it was fine, and it looked attractive served on banana leaves. We could see it might make a great take-away lunch but perhaps wasn’t memorable enough to hurry back for.
The massaman lamb curry was good; the lamb was definitely tender and we liked the slightly charred sticks of whole cinnamon it was presented with. That said, we had a lurking suspicion that Mama San could do better.
A thai meal isn’t complete without thai sticky rice so it had to be ordered. As we were sharing we were delighted to see that they offered half a mango drizzled with coconut milk. We were wondering where the sticky rice had gone to when we discovered it hiding underneath.
Apart from this, the surprise was the colour; rather than the usual black, it was mid-blueish in tone and very sticky. Again it was good, but was unable to surpass Thai Basil’s outstanding mango and black sticky rice which somehow manages to epitomise, in our tastes at least, the ultimate in Thai comfort food.
All in all, in our view Mak Mak is worth going to if you are in the area and looking for a take-away or acceptable Thai restaurant food, but despite the decor and helpful manager, it isn’t somewhere we would go out of our way to return to.
Mak Mak, Shop 217A, 2/F Landmark Atrium, 15 Queen’s Road, Central, Hong Kong
In case these directions help, is tucked on the Queen’s Road side of the Landmark building, opposite Charlotte Olympia and John Hardy shops.
www.makmak.hk (Facebook) Tel: 2983 1003