Updated: 4th July 2012; This restaurant had closed according to Urbanspoon.com.
The response was beyond everyone’s expectation.
When we put up an event for chowtimes readers, we thought it would be great if we could get 20 people to attend so that we can fill up the small dining area in Mamak Cafe. The response trickled in hour after hour and when we surpassed 20 people I sent an email to Charles asking him if I should stop accepting more. He wrote back saying “the more the better, the entire place can take 120 people”.
Charles is the man behind Mamak Cafe. He opened this new Malaysian eatery in Gastown and ran it with his wife, Julie. They were the same people who used to operate another Malaysian restaurant called Jonker Street in Yaletown.
Since Charles were confident, Suanne and I went on accepting requests. We began to get concern when the numbers went past 30. I wrote to Charles again and this time no response. I guess he was busy and not an email kind of person. I was concerned because the Mamak cafe is not a very big operation and I was worried that they may not be able to handle such a large group. We had organized an event in a small ramen place with 25 people before and it was quite chaotic when the kitchen was not able to handle the group fast enough and the quality of food suffered.
When the count passed 40, we desperately needed Charles to respond. He was not aware that we are reaching 50 requests and that is when Charles said we better stop at 50. Even though we posted the message that registration closed on chowtimes, at the end we had over 70 requests which we had to put some on standby.
We realized that this is not a simple event even with a dozen people. So, Suanne and I went a week before to meet Charles and his team of volunteers to sort out the logistics, the menu, the program. It became a full fledged project – I was not expecting that!
Thank goodness we had Ada and her friends helping with all the heavy lifting. That makes my work so much more lighter. I am just amazed with Ada … she totally surprised me what she did for the event. For her it had to be top quality work. She even thoughtfully put up a sign outside the restaurant to welcome the guests! I like the red chilli.
The sign was needed actually and Ada had the hindsight to make it on her own. You see, Mamak Cafe is located in a place that you would least expect to find a Malaysian restaurant. Mamak Cafe is located inside a pub called Pub 340.
The week prior to the event, Charles were still deciding how to setup the dining area. Because of the large number of people, Charles had no choice but to take over part of the pub for the event. There was also the issue of having enough tables and chairs conducive for a sit down meal. I was worried (I worry about everything!) but Charles was cool.
When I showed up early on the day of the event, the place was all set. I was quite pleased with it considering that this is actually a pub.
Needless to say, Charles and Julie was super busy that morning. He was the main man whipping up all the food for 50 people. And it is no joke too that each of the menu items are individually and laboriously prepared.
That included flipping the roti canai dough above, grilling the satays, boiling the bak kut teh, cooking the rendang, simmering the curry chicken, preparing the acar, making the prawns sambal, steaming the coconut rice, frying the mee goreng, and pulling the teh tarik. It is not easy especially he had to do that for 50 people.
Charles was handling it very well under pressure. I popped into the kitchen once and see if I could help but seeing the kitchen hard at work, I thought I better stay out and let the man do his thing.
Ada even prepared a nice write-up of the event and the dishes of the courses of the event. I expected something word-processed and printed off a laser printer.
My jaws dropped when I saw the output … fully desktop published and printed in full color. Yeah … next time chowtimes have an event, I am going to see if I could get Ada to do this sort of stuff for me. LOL!
I think one of the reason for the good response was that it was a good deal given by Charles and Julie to chowtimes readers. Charles created a menu specifically for the event which he charges only $12. The menu are spread over 4 courses and includes: Continue reading