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Makan Malaysian Cafe

Before she opened Makan Malaysian Cafe in the summer of 2012, Karen Wee Lin Tan Beckman, a native of Malaysia, gained many fans at the Old South Pearl Street farmers’ market, where she had a stand for four years, stocked with many of the dishes that are now favorites at her restaurant on the same street. In this colorful space, she and her husband are attempting to do what few ethnic eateries have dared in this town: Rather than neutering dishes to eliminate unfamiliar ingredients or spices, as happens at many Thai, Indian and Chinese restaurants, Makan is serving authentic Malaysian fare, in all its fishy and highly spiced glory. Whether making dumplings, stir-fried rice noodles or chicken curry, Beckman prepares food according to recipes mostly learned at her mother’s side, diverting from tradition only when a particular ingredient isn’t available. In Malaysia, food is commonly eaten family-style, and Beckman encourages diners to adopt this practice when tackling Makan’s menu. Among the standouts: traditional roti, curries, steamed dumplings known as siu mai, mee siam (stir-fried vermicelli loaded with shrimp, tofu and eggs), and skewers of satay chicken and beef -- tasty on their own, and even better with the housemade peanut sauce.