The hardest part of eating at Makan is picking just one dish off the tempting menu. A Platt Park staple since summer 2012, chef-owner Karen Wee Lin Tan Beckman creates authentic scratch-made cuisine from her native country in her open kitchen. The assorted medley of flavors spanning from curries to sambals originates from the southeastern Asian country’s diverse culture. A melting pot of Malay, Chinese and Indian results in outstanding food with authenticity and comfort.
A newbie to Malaysian food, I did not know what to expect when I made my first spontaneous decision to get a taste of Makan one late afternoon. Makan translates to “eat” in Malay, a tribute to a common greeting in the country, “sudah makan?” or “have you eaten?”
It is common to eat family–style in Malaysia so ordering more than one dish to share is ideal for this venture. Nothing will disappoint, but above all you must get the Murtabak roti ($12/$14)—a soft, thick flatbread which is often served with curry as a side sauce and served as a street food in Mamak stalls. This rendition is served with red and yellow curry and filled with spiced chicken or lamb mincemeat, cabbage, egg and shredded red onion. Beckman makes each dish from scratch, but the wait is worth it—they come out warm and comforting in the same fashion as biscuits and gravy without the loads of calories. All dishes are made without preservatives and they offer many vegetarian options.
While you’re waiting for your roti, curb the hunger with a Teh Tarik, a Malaysian pulled black tea mixed with condensed milk that is pulled back and forth for a creamy froth. Try the Teh Halla, a Teh Tarik with added ginger juice for when you need an immune boost.
Ultimately, Beckman serves a traditional and delicious meal from the heart of her homeland with her philosophy of house-made healthy food without preservatives. Her creation of a mini Malaysia within her charming cafe is a remarkable addition in Denver’s culinary scene.
Makan Malaysian Cafe is located at 1859 South Pearl Street and open for lunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., open for dinner Monday through Thursday from 5-9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 4:30-9:30 p.m. Check out their happy hour all night Monday, 5-6:30 p.m. on Tuesday through Thursday and 4:30-6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
All photography by Caitlin Plante.