Malaysian food is a celebration of the cultural communities that make the country: Malays, Chinese, Indians, Orang Asli and indigenous ethnic groups of Sabah and Sarawak. It’s also influenced by its Asian neighbours with Javanese, Thai and Singaporean influences.
The Two Girls and the Gatecrasher stopped in at the Asian-fusion Mug Squared. Although it is influenced by Cantonese and Singaporean cuisine, the main inspiration is Penang street food from Malaysia where owner and chef, Davane, grew up.
A few fun facts I discovered after visiting Mug Squared. Before which the most I knew about the cuisine was the durian, a big fruit, with a bigger reputation.
Trying to sum up a cuisine with that many influences in a few words would be a blunt instrument. Noodles, soups and curries feature and the national dish is steamed rice with coconut milk called nasi lemak. In the interplay of cultures, dishes are adapted and reinvented to produce a unique smorgasbord of flavours, textures and experiences.
The Mug Squared menu features rice, noodles and curries and we discovered wonderful dishes that were full of flavour and combinations that were new to us.
Davane and his partner Vivien, have been operating Mug Squared for about eight months, before that they owned the Central Food Court café in Glenorchy where they catered sandwiches, coffee, cakes, fish and chips and Asian precooked meals. They decided to give the city ago after they realised some of their clientele were making the trip to the northern suburbs to enjoy their food.
Hobart was wanting more and it was time to give it to them.
What we ate:
- Fried wonton, 4 pieces, $2.50, chicken, water chestnut, spring onion
- Roti, $4.50, a plain roti with curry dipping sauce
- Penang char kway teow, a chef’s special, $12.80, stir fry with flat rice noodles, Chinese sausages, homemade char siu (bbq pork), prawns, fish cake, bean sprout, spring onion and sambal
- Penang char hor fun, another of the chef’s specials, available for a limited time, $14.80, chicken, tofu, vegetables and noodles in a broth
- Roti egg with Mug’s curry, $12.50, one roti cooked with egg with two chicken drumsticks, dino eggs and potatoes.
Given their name, the presence of mugs of curry wasn’t a surprise but where did the idea come from?
“We used to drink coffee from enamel mugs when I was young, so I used that as the inspiration to serve our curry and laksas in,” Davane told us.
Mug Squared is offering Malaysian/Asian fusion with as much produce as they can source locally and free-range.
“We source as much as we can from local farmers and try to pick Tasmanian produce products where we can.
“We use local farmers for all our Chinese vegetables, Tasmania produced flour for our roti doughs and pastries from the Tasmanian Flour Mills in Launceston,” Davane said.
“Our meats are also from local suppliers such as Nichols Chicken.”
The meals were all delicious and we enjoyed the combination of spices and the fresh produce and great-value prices. While the roti curry sauce had a fantastic depth and warmth which the Two Girls loved, Gatecrasher enjoyed her Penang char hor fun which was full of flavour but a little less heat.
Mug Squared is a Tasmanian owned and operated business who do Penang street food to Australian influenced Chinese meals, take away, eat-in and catering for functions locally.
Find them at 41 Elizabeth Street in Hobart’s mall.
Here they are on Facebook – @Mug Squared.
They also offer online ordering for lunch on the go, check out their webpage for details- Mug Squared.
We’ve already started spreading the news. Mug Squared is terrific. Make it a regular.
This month’s Gourmet Traveller has a feature on Malaysian cuisine – you’ll have to buy it to read it but they also have a range of Malaysian recipes available for public access on their webpage so get cooking – Gourmet Traveller.