Blind taste test: Murtabak mania

Murtabak is in the news.

Last week, The New Paper ran a story on the famous Zam Zam and Victory restaurants taking to a "drive-thru" operation to accommodate increased orders during Ramadan.

While these sellers have more than 200 years of experience between them, how do they compare with lesser-known names?

We set photographer and murtabak enthusiast Ariffin Jamar on a blind taste test challenge: Four different mutton murtabak, $6 each, plain plates, no gravy.

Here's how they fared.

Al-Tasneem Restaurant

709, North Bridge Road

At first glance, this looks like it'd give you the most bang for your buck.

Instead of just mutton as a filling, this has additional minced meat on the outside.

Despite looking a little charred, it is not crispy enough for my liking.

At first bite, the strong flavours of mutton and egg are overpowering. I can't even taste a hint of onion. I'm not a big fan of onions, but I'd still prefer to have a bit of it in my murtabak.

Score: 3.5 out of 5

Zam Zam Restaurant

697-699, North Bridge Road

Just on presentation alone, this wins hands down. It's packed perfectly in crisp white paper lined with banana leaf, which enhances the aroma.

But under our test conditions (served on plain paper plates), it looks paler than the others.

The murtabak itself is perfectly packed - the filling is neatly stuffed into the dough. And the portions of ingredients are just right.

But taste-wise, I find the mutton overpowered by too much spice.

Score: 3 out of 5

Adam Delights

Adam Road Food Centre

Never judge a murtabak by its wrapper. Compared with the others, this one looks hastily wrapped in brown paper.

On the plate, the filling spills out till it almost looks like a topping.

This has a crispy crust and instead of the traditional minced meat, it contains generous chunks of mutton. The onion, sliced instead of diced, looks aplenty but is surprisingly subtle.

The best way to describe this is as a marriage between a murtabak and a meat lover's pizza.

Score: 4.5 out of 5

Victory Restaurant

701, North Bridge Road

Also packed in banana leaf and white paper, this murtabak is good looking. You can see the years of fine-tuning that have gone into this.

It seems to have every classic trait of a murtabak - a strong smell of onion and brittle bits that fall off when you pick up a piece.

But it falls short in taste - it is too greasy and lacking in flavour.

Score: 3 out of 5


This article was first published on July 27, 2014.
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