Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Mama's Buoi, Melbourne CBD

Disclaimer: Winston dined as a guest of Mama's Buoi. All opinions are honest and based on my own experience at the time.

A.K. Sour
Freshly bruleed passionfruit, frangelico, vodka, lime, sugar & passionfruit

First of many cocktails consumed that evening *hic*

Chicken and Pork Liver Pate with Sesame Crackers

Rice Noodles Stuffed with Pork, Mushroom & Fried Shallots

Shell on School Prawns with Salt, Pepper & Citrus

Steak Roll Vietnamese Salad Wrap with Citrus & Green Chilli Dressing

Reconstructed Can Chua (sour soup) with Fried Noodles, Mussels, Calamari & Prwan

Ginger Chicken Stir Fry with Bok Choi

Steamed Barramundi Wrapped in Bamboo with Lemongrass, Chilli & Citrus Dressing

Caramelised Pork Belly Hot Pot with Boiled Egg

Reconstructed Three Colour Drink with Black Jelly, Pandan Jelly, Rum & Mung Bean Puree, Basil Seeds, Jackfruit and Coconut Milk


I first came to Mama's Buoi a couple of months ago on a random night and my friends and I found ourselves unanimously enjoying our meal there that time. Every dish that we had was exciting, delicious and we found that it to be quite good value for money too. I liked it so much that I started recommending this place to friends when they would ask me to suggest a place to eat in the city (but never got around to posting a photo of it or blogging about my meal that time).

So, I was quite excited when I got the invite to come to Mama's Buoi as I was keen to come back and try more stuff from the menu. 

We started off our evening with cocktails in hand whilst the owner introduced himself and his restaurant at the start. As the night progressed, I found myself having quite a number of their cocktails (can you blame me?), which I absolutely loved. One particular cocktail stuck out to me from the rest, which was the Pho Cocktail (not pictured). I know what you're thinking... Chicken/beef noodle soups in the form of a cold drink? I had my reservations too but to be honest, it turned out to be pretty damn good. The flavour and fragrance of the makings of a pho was really unmistakeable in the drink it was quite peculiar, in a good way. Actually tastes exactly like a pho... But it wasn't! It was a cocktail. I liked this. I love it even more when my tastebuds are challenged like that. It was delicious, exciting and definitely memorable. I still think about that cocktail till today.

Back to the food... And let's just say, there was a lot of it. Highlights for the entree for me was the liver pate, which was smooth and delectable. So delicious to have with the crispy sesame crackers. Besides that, I really enjoyed the school prawns too. The dipping sauce was simple and straight forward: freshly squeezed lime with a bit of salt and pepper. Utterly delicious. There were a number of other entrees which was served too but I didn't get a chance to photograph. All I can say is they each had its own unique flavour but what was consistent throughout each of them was how much liveliness there was in terms of flavour and texture as each of them had an abundance of fresh, raw, crunchy herbs/vegetables... Something that I feel is so synonymous to Vietnamese cuisine.

The mains were definitely cooked well and had a strong homecooked feel. It was a little less inventive and modern than the entrees, but more straight forward and felt like from the heart. It was incredibly tasty and comforting. The dishes made me feel like I was eating at a home cooked by a loved one, rather than a restaurant. Truthfully, there hasn't been a lot of restaurants that's made me feel this way. I like it. I appreciated it.

If I had to pick the dish of the night, for me, it would have to be the Can Chua (sour soup) with crispy noodles and seafood. It looked really simple but was FANTASTIC. The soup base had a complexity to it, which I did not expect. At first, your senses are awakened by the (not overly sharp) sourness. But soon after, you get a wave of savoury, umami that just rounds up the taste in your mouth. It was really, really good. The bonus was the salty crunch from the noodles and the sweetness from the seafood. It was a very good dish and I loved every drop of it. Funnily enough, this dish was done for us as a trial but not actually from the menu! I kept telling the owner that evening how good of a job they've done with that dish and truly hope that they will put in on their menu permanently. 

Overall, it was another great meal at Mama's Buoi -- I'm so glad I came again. If I had to pin point to the dishes that I thought could've been improved, it would probably be the steak roll (quite tough), crispy pork belly (bit on the dry side) and the dessert (too much going on). That said, there were so many other parts of the evening that I could praise and commend them for their efforts. 

This place really proves to be a great restaurant option in the city, especially if you're in the mood for Modern Asian (which, for me is most days). It almost doesn't matter what you order because food is consistent and delicious. Location is extremely convenient (right next to the H&M building on Bourke St!) which I really like too. Price point is fair and and and they do great cocktails too -- which is always a plus in my books! Coming here again (even though my second visit was paid for) didn't change my opinion of this place. It is for all these reasons that I was recommending people to come here to try back then, and why I am recommending people to try now.

Mama's Buoi on Urbanspoon

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