I was surprised and delighted to hear that there was a new Malaysian restaurant in Norwich, located in the culinary quarter that once housed the Westlegate McDonald’s on the ground floor. My Makan opened earlier on in 2023 and they’re attempting to offer authentic Malaysian cuisine, so Bev, Gordon, Brian and I thought that it was only right that we paid it a visit.
The 50% off sale was for next door, although I did have a buy one get one free voucher for a free main for the table. There’s a five star food hygiene rating certificate there for those who require such reassurance.
The menu and it wasn’t bloated in size, which is always a positive first sign for me. When aiming for an authentic Malaysian experience, I don’t want to see chicken vindaloo or something which seems to be a cuisine mission creep that some restaurants fall into the trap of. My one free main meal was slightly undermined by Gordon ordering two main meals, although I pinched a chunk of that so all was well.
It wasn’t packed on our Thursday evening visit, but it did get busier later on. The atmosphere is quiet and inviting, the acoustics work well here so it’s not too loud. It was perhaps just a little hot, but they’ve got vertical fans going which resolved the issue.
The blue butterfly pea flower drink, which I didn’t quite understand from the menu, but as they don’t sell alcohol it seemed intriguing. Bev was going on about it turning green when lime is added and it does appear to be a drink that changes its colour depending on the acidity. It’s not visible in the photo, but I found the streams of blue going into the drink from straw really quite hypnotic. When it was served the drink looked as though it was a weak cordial, but this had a depth of taste to it and a flavour that I’ve never had before. It stayed resolutely blue, but this was one of the better soft drinks that I’ve had. I was also fortunate as I ordered first and when Brian tried to order they told him that they had run out.
The view over the Pig and Whistle pub. I mean, it’s not the Petronas Towers, but watching the denizens of Norwich meander by was suitably calming.
This is the Nasi Lemak with ayam rempah, or spiced fried chicken. Firstly, I’ve never had dried anchovies and they added texture, a salty fishy taste and no shortage of flavour. The peanuts added more flavour and the sambal was moreish and had a spicy edge to it. The rice was well cooked and the salad element added some extra colour to the plate. The chicken thigh was tender, moist and the coating was crispy and packed with various herbs and spices. Dipping that chicken into the sambal was evidence that simple things done well are all that is often needed. In some senses there were an awful lot of things on the plate, but it was a delight to work my way around the plate, and the pledge of authenticity that the restaurant made certainly seemed to have been honoured.
The dessert photos, although they’re listed in plain text on the main menu as well. Photos of desserts usually indicates that they’re bought in and the restaurant has pinched the stock photos, but here it’s more because they want to show what the food actually looks like. We can’t all be Malaysian food experts and I thought this was useful.
Rice pudding is one of my favourite things, particularly on long walks when I need some liquid and solid refreshment at the same time and am too tired to chew. Long distance walking isn’t all glamour, but I digress. This is black, and as the restaurant notes glutinous, rice pudding served with thick coconut milk and vanilla ice cream. The portion size wasn’t the most subtle, but I never complain about too much food. It was served warm, it was light but yet filling and the flavours once again worked beautifully. Bev, who complains about everything, was very quiet on that front and she muttered only that she had eaten too much. There is rarely much more praise than Bev can give than to only complain that she’s over indulged.
I tried to take a photo of Gordon’s banana fritters dessert, but he had eaten most of them before I had chance, so Brian’s meal was instead brought into play for the purpose.
Bringing all things together, this was an exceptional meal. The service was attentive, polite and kind throughout the entire dine. The restaurant was clean, the surroundings comfortable and the prices reasonable. But, the food and drink continued to surprise and delight me, especially experiencing new flavours which I hadn’t had before. I am sure that I’ll be back and I hope that the restaurant continues to get busier through word of mouth, it certainly deserves to.