Makan Place, Pacific Werribee, Hoppers Crossing. Phone 8742 2368
Whatever the planned longevity of shopping centres, there’s no doubt that once they’re up we’re stuck with them for several decades.
Stuck, too, with old-school food courts, lousy fast food and a neverending torrent of plastic.
But with the new food area at Highpoint (see stories here and here) and the even newer Urban Diner precinct at the rebranded Pacific Werribee at Hoppers Crossing, it seems that – going forward (ugh!) – developers have finally twigged that their customers want better food in better surroundings.
And that it is a very good idea to provide them.
Nevertheless, I confess to being on the snooty side when I first saw the Pacific Werribee/Urban Diner food line-up.
Sure, there’s outlets – Grill’d and Guzmen y Gomez, in particular – of which we’re fond.
But there appeared to be little of real interest to us.
Somehow, during that process, I missed Makan Place – until a story by the Urban Ma tweaked our interest.
A full-on, new Malaysian restaurant at a Hoppers Crossing shopping centre?
Oh yes, we’ll be in that!
So it is that we front up after Bennie’s guitar lesson, also (very handily) just up the road.
Makan Place is a lovely eatery in which to spend some time, with several different seating configurations on hand.
We find the ordering system – mark dish numbers on a slip, push a buzzer on the condiment tray, have order whisked away by a staff member – works really well.
The service is fine and our food arrives very quickly.
The menu is pretty much as expected, long and packed with photographs, and starts with “toast” and snack items.
At first, I fear we may have over-ordered – but we down the lot.
Hungry lads are we!
French toast with Kaya and peanut butter ($5.90) we order based on the Urban Ma’s enthusiastic recommendation.
I figure that if I don’t like it, Bennie sure as hell will.
It strikes me as more of a breakfast dish – very rich, almost cloying.
Bennie loves it!
I recall a time when most Malaysian eateries in Melbourne served acar as a side dish.
The Makan Place version ($5.90) makes wish that was still the case.
This generous serve of (very) lightly pickled vegetables is superb, crunchy and packed with sesame flavour.
It would’ve been nice if some cauliflower had joined the carrot, cucumber and cabbage.
Bennie’s nasi lemak with beef rendang is another winner – and another good-sized meal for the price ($12.90).
All the usual components are in place, including some of that acar.
The curry serve is also generous but – as is often the case – the big chunks of beef are dry.
Smaller and more tender pieces are needed – or at least quite a lot more gravy to make up for the dryness.
Just for comparison purposes, I order the regular chicken laksa ($11.90).
It’s a good, solid if unspectacular laksa but not quite not in the same class as that to be had at M Yong Tofu in Flemington.
Still, our quibbles are very minor – Makan Place is a fine addition to the Malaysian options available in the west.
Our total bill, having eaten very well, is a most excellent $36.60.