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Like the Dabbawallas of Mumbai, Nani Yusof Hughie got her start in the hospitality business by delivering boxed lunches to office workers. Now she’s graduated to the ranks of full-fledged restaurateur with Mamak House, where she’s serving “the first authentic Penang’s Indian Malay Mixed Halal cuisine in Flushing,” according to the menu. A bit of history: Mamak is a term used to describe Malaysians whose ancestors migrated from South India, and Hughie’s cooking reflects that Tamil Muslim legacy. She presides over the onetime Korean barbecue joint, tabletop grills and exhaust hoods still intact, exuding a gentle motherly presence as she floats from booth to booth, greeting diners and talking up her food. It mostly speaks for itself: Tender satay served with a sauce less overtly peanutty than most; deep-fried okra that makes jalapeño poppers look like health food; aromatic curries that you can combine in “Meal Set” combo plates accessorized with basmati rice, pappadams, turmeric-tinged fried cabbage, and okra, abstemiously steamed this time. For a summer dessert, nothing beats the shaved-ice concoction called ais kacang, splashed with sweet syrup and festooned with peanuts, red beans, grass jelly, and corn.Recommended Dishes
Chicken satay, $6.95; combo No. 3 with ayam rendang and beef nasi kandar, $18.95; ais kacang, $3.95.
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