I am a big fan of Thai cuisine and count Chachawan amongst my favourite Hong Kong restaurants. When I heard that JIA Group’s Yenn Wong (the mastermind behind Chachawan, Aberdeen Street Social, 22 Ships and a number of others) was opening a new Thai restaurant called Mak Mak, I knew it was going to be a good one.
I have grown used to eating in shopping malls here in Hong Kong, but I always appreciate when a restaurateur makes an effort to fool you into thinking you are not in a shopping mall. Despite its location within luxury mall The Landmark, Mak Mak is designed to be reminiscent of 1960s Bangkok. The façade is designed like a Thai grocery store, whilst inside, the airy restaurant is made to look like the shopkeeper’s home, with colourful tiles, wooden shutters and fun artwork.
Unlike Chachawan, which showcases northern Thai cuisine, Mak Mak’s menu focuses on central Thai cuisine. The kitchen is led by native Thai Chef Mumu, who adds her creative and modern touch to the classic Thai dishes we all know and love.
We began our meal with some deep-fried king prawns wrapped in vermicelli. I tried these in Thailand around 10 years ago and struggle to find them on many Thai menus. Mak Mak’s version were as good as I remember, but I didn’t love the accompanying honey mustard dip.
The marinated chicken in pandan leaves is another of my favourites and this one did not disappoint. Personally, I would have the honey mustard dip with these and the Thai sweet chilli with the prawns, but the chicken was actually so tender and flavoursome that it didn’t really need a dip at all.
The larb gai, a salad made with minced chicken, fresh Thai herbs and a lot of chilli, had a beautiful flavour and definitely packed a punch. For some, it might have been a little too far on the spicy side, but I thought the freshness of the ingredients balanced it out nicely.
Thinking we could get a phad thai anywhere, we opted instead for the phad see eaw, made with flat rice noodles, baby kale, baby corn and pork. This wasn’t anything special, but was nonetheless comforting and tasty enough.
Mak Mak has an extensive vegetarian menu, which is quite refreshing to see. We tried Mama Mumu’s stir-fried tofu with garlic, chilli and holy basil. The chicken version of this dish is bar far one of my favourite Thai dishes, and, whilst I still prefer the chicken version, the tofu was also delicious.
I think the best dish of the night was the Australian wagyu beef panang curry. Not only was it beautifully presented, with the beef wrapped around lemongrass skewers, but the rich sweet and spicy flavour was spot on. The crispy toasted coconut added a lovely contrasting texture, but I only wish there was a bit more sauce to go around.
Mak Mak’s mango sticky rice is served with blue rice, which I assume is dyed with a butterfly pea flower. It’s hard to go wrong with mango sticky rice and this one was definitely a winner.
Our favourite of the desserts, however, was the coconut ice cream, served in a young coconut. This also came with blue sticky rice, topped with whole roasted peanuts and drizzled in a salty-sweet caramel sauce. One bite of this and I felt as if I was actually on holiday in Thailand.
Our meal, including a cocktail each and a bottle of wine, came to just under $2,000 for the four of us. I felt that the portion sizes were not quite in line with the prices (the curry, for example was $198) and I wasn’t particularly full when we left. You can easily get cheap Thai food in Hong Kong, but, as with all of Yenn Wong’s restaurants, the quality of the ingredients tells its own story and, in spite of the prices, I can certainly see myself returning to Mak Mak for more tasty Thai treats.
217A, 2/F Landmark Atrium
15 Queen’s Road Central
Tel: +852 2983 1003