As residents of Ranelagh, we often walk past Mak at D6 on a Saturday night by the Triangle and see it buzzing with a comfortable throng of customers. Having walked past and read the menu about 50 times, but never venturing inside, we decided to give the Early Bird menu a go on Monday night.
What Steph thinks:
At Mak at D6, the Early Bird special is from 5.30 - 7pm with reasonable prices such as 2 courses for 21 or 3 courses for 23 Euro, it sounded like a pretty good deal. There was a relatively good selection on offer, and covered all the usual suspects from a Chinese restaurant. I do have a confession though. I grew up in Hong Kong , have family there, and still call it my second home. So with the best Chinese food on my door step for most of my life, I find myself on a self imposed high horse when it comes to Chinese restaurants. I can also make a mean Chinese feast at home, so the restaurant fare has to be of a high standard to tempt me to spend my money.
The decor and ambience is pleasant, with dim lighting and dark walls giving a cosy and ideal setting for a date or an intimate dinner. They have made an effort to tie in the decorations with the Chinese theme which they say is heavily influenced by Hong Kong cuisine, by fashioning lanterns and dim sum steamers into various wall murals and there are a few strategically placed Buddhas upon entry. Despite their efforts, there is an element of tiredness to the restaurant, which is not what I was expecting having seen their website which shows impressive decor and table settings. Perhaps it was because it was 6:45 on a Monday night, but you would hope that an effort is made consistently. The loos were also fatigued somewhat, but were clean which is a plus! The service was fantastic, we had a very attentive waitress, and the food arrived in good time, which was perfect as all i'd eaten that day was 2 slices of toast and I was hangry!
We decided to go for the 2 course meal, as 3 just felt a tad greedy for a Monday night (OK, we might have gone home to have chocolate cake and chocolate mousse ice cream). Whenever Matt and I go out for Asian food, we always share everything, something that I've insisted upon (part of my Hong Kong family banquet upbringing), which is brilliant as you potentially get more food, and you can try it all. But who am I kidding, the only person getting more food out of this is Matt, the 6 foot 3 inch food monster, who has finished his dinner before I've had my 4th bite. So we ordered spicy chicken potstickers, BBQ ribs to start, crispy sweet chilli chicken and beef with black bean sauce for our mains. I did order the crispy pork belly originally, but they didn't have any (OK OK I was put off a smidge). I cannot forget to mention you get a free bowl of prawn crackers before your starters arrive #winning.
The ribs were dark, but delightful and definitely the best out of the two. The BBQ sauce was the perfect balance of tangy, sweet and salty and the ribs were tender, meaty and easy to eat. You get three large sized ribs which seemed reasonable for the price. The chicken potstickers were OK, nicely pan fried on their bottom and came with two dipping sauces, chilli and vinegar. I'm not going to say anything else about the potstickers apart from they weren't bad, and they filled a hole.
The main courses arrived promptly after we finished the starters. No messing about here. Another plus! The crispy sweet chilli chicken was not what I was expecting. It was more of a sweet and sour chicken than crispy sweet chilli. The batter was a bit too crispy, and some pieces were mostly batter with not much chicken. The chicken itself was on the dry side, so by this point I was very glad we had the sharing rule. The black bean beef was much better. Very tender pieces of filet beef stir fried with peppers and onions in a tasty but slightly gloopy and a tad on the oily side black bean sauce. The chef seemed a little heavy on the dark soy sauce as well, which made the dish quite hard to see if you know what I mean (photo below). However, it tasted really good, but if you're weary of oily food, you may want to give it a miss. We had a steamed jasmine rice and a egg fried rice alongside the mains, which were fine.
All in all, my experience at Mak was ok. We had a meal for two with the early bird deal for 42 Euro plus 10% tip. We were cheapskates and had tap water, but luckily we did, otherwise the meal would have set us back 50 quid, which for a Monday night seems extravagant, and for the food we had, perhaps a bit too much. Would I go again? Yeah, why not, but probably not in a hurry, but I definitely would not go outside of early bird hours, as the beef with black bean costs 18.50 Euro full price. As a Hong Konger deep down, I just can't bring myself to do it.
What Matt thinks:
Ok so first up I would just like to confess Chinese food is my favourite take-away. Back in my home town of Croydon I was in fact the first ever customer to the local Chinese take-away and kept visiting for the next 12 years without fail. So I was excited to try Mak at D6, as the menu has lots of things I love. We went for the early bird menu which makes it a lot cheaper. At around 16-18 euro for a main course outside of the early bird special it’s expensive, and is a far cry from the £8 main back in Croydon from Peking Garden.
The starters were great, I especially loved the BBQ ribs we had. Sadly I had to share with the wife, or I would have easily eaten all 3. I settled for 2 and a half. The chicken potstickers were pretty tasty too. Plus there was a nice helping of free prawn crackers…only trouble with eating these is they make you more hungry and more impatient for the real food to arrive. I think I could literally eat 4 bowls worth of prawn crackers alone, so sharing them is one of the most painful things to do in life. The main courses were also good, especially the Beef in black bean sauce, which I washed down with a large side of egg fried rice. The crispy sweet chilli chicken was not as good, but I still enjoyed it. However I would have baulked at paying full price for this, I had better at Peking Garden back in Croydon for a lot less. Would I come here outside of the early bird menu? Probably not… but I did really enjoy my food and would definitely visit again when the deal is on.
Steph Rating 3 stars
Matt Rating 3.5 stars
Price for 2 42 EUR (no drinks, and not including tip)
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