Melbourne's Best Snacks: Migrant Coffee's Pastrami Mami

Published on 26 August 2021

Photo: The Pastrami Mami from Migrant Coffee (Illustration: Juliet Sulejmani, The Juliet Report)

Melbourne’s most essential Filipino bagel, the Pastrami Mami brings the flavours of atchara and the Reuben together at last.

The Pastrami Mami was the first bagel Melo Malazarte and Stacey Earsman came up with for their tiny western suburbs cafe. The sandwich is now a best-selling signature and, says Malazarte, epitomises what Migrant’s food is all about. “It’s like a classic New York-style reuben but instead of sauerkraut we use atchara, the Filipino pickle.”

Highlighting Filipino (and Thai and Pacific Islander) flavours is an ongoing project at the café but it’s incidental rather than explicit. “We don’t explain atchara,” says Malazarte. “We add it because it’s good to have that Filipino pop, but it’s also a talking point, a chance for us to open a conversation about Filipino food.”

At the risk of stymying that in-café conversation, atchara is a green papaya pickle, made here after a recipe by American-Filipina food pioneer Nicole Ponseca, an inspiration for the team. “We use shredded green papaya, daikon, capsicum, carrot, and raisins and brine them in raw sugar and white vinegar with ginger, salt, and garlic,” says Malazarte. It’s a tart, zingy, crisp foil for the smoky pastrami, Swiss cheese, and cream cheese, which play rich and smooth.

You can choose your bagel but the Everything is everything, with a seedy crunch that adds to the Mami kapow.

Migrant Coffee, 3/576 Barkly St, West Footscray,

By Dani Valent