Jackie M only opens for dinner 15 hours every week - Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 5-10pm. As if it isn't already effort to drive to Concord, the restaurant's opening hours means Malaysian food lovers only have a small window to dine here.
However, the key to Jackie M's success has been her catering, which is actually how the restaurant came about. (So you can in fact indulge in Jackie M's Malaysian foods, any time at home)
I'm beginning to hear lots of start-up stories of how people start catering for family and friends, and then through word of mouth, they suddenly reach enough demand to formulate a business. Home cooks/bakers turned business owners, I love it. The story of Jackie M is quite similar, except unlike many, who have only just begun their exciting passion-fuelled journey in the last few years, Jackie has been doing this since 2002.
The Jackie M premises was meant to be a commercial kitchen for her catering and production of frozen packs and curry pastes (which are sold online, at the restaurant, and at various markets), but out of customer demand, she expanded it to include this restaurant. And since it has opened up to the public, this tiny dining room has been packed.
So recently, I finally booked myself in...
I start with the durian smoothie ($7). A sweet custard-like drink with the
divine pungency of durian fruit. The scent is off-putting to Zen but
gosh I love it!
From the 'snacks to share' menu, we have the curry puffs (4 for $12), which are available in a meat or vegetarian filling, and the popiah (2 for $14).
These curry puffs are the real deal. The spiral pastry is as gorgeous to look at as it is delicious. They're crisp and flaky. Pure comfort food. Thank goodness there's four pieces per serve because it would've been so dissatisfying to stop at one!
I did bookmark Shez's recipe for Malaysian curry puffs last year, but I've still yet to make these! Who wants to make me a batch? :)
The popiah are really good too. Jackie has filled these house-made crepe skins with as much yam bean, egg, lettuce, cucumber and minced dried shrimp mix as it could possibly take. They're plump and chubby - on the verge of bursting but still firm to hold.
The rojak ($15) is our choice of greens/vegetables - a Penang style fruit and vegetable salad which plays on the contrast of sweet, salty and sour. I love the refreshing crunch of cucumbers, yam beans and pineapples mixed with the thick salty prawn paste and peanut dressing.
For our main course, we share the nasi lemak ($15, add $5 for chicken/lamb/beef/dhal) and the deluxe laksa Nonya ($14, add $6 for prawns, calamari & fishcake).
I've always been very fond of nasi lemak because of its accompaniments. Here, it's an intricate arrangement of fragrant coconut rice served with a fiery dried anchovy sambal, crunchy peanuts, the wholesomeness of a hard boiled egg, fresh cucumber slices and the exotic savouriness of pickled vegetables. We have ours with the chicken curry too. It's absolutely delectable!
Meanwhile the laksa is as good as it gets in Sydney! It's a little dear with the addition of prawns, calamari and fishcake bringing the dish to a cost of $20, but the spicy coconut broth with the combination of egg, fried tofu, shredded cucumber, fried shallots and laksa leaves makes this a really exquisite noodle soup.
This wouldn't be a Malaysian feast without a sweet finish. The banana roti ($14.50) is rich, flaky and buttery, layered with slices of banana and topped with condensed milk and ice cream.
We've ordered and eaten an incredible amount of food and this roti just pushes us right over the edge of being full.
Jackie is really active in the social media scene so while I'm almost in a state of being in a food coma, I'm keen to chat with her.
As we talk about her IT background and experiences as a restaurateur, she churns out many takeaway orders including some popiah which she makes completely from scratch.
It's no wonder Jackie M keeps popping up in conversation when people talk about Malaysian food. You get a real sense of passion and entrepreneurship when you meet her and the quality of this meal is a reflection of her determination to perfect recipes.
85 Majors Bay Road, Concord, NSW
Phone: (02) 9743 0390