Friday, November 9, 2007

Madam Mam's

I went to Madam Mam’s last week with my friend Becky for lunch. The tires on her car tried to fall off so she and her car were stuck at the mechanics and I decided to rescue her for a quick lunch. We went through the meager list of acceptable food options in far south Austin and decided on Madam Mams. Becky eats there quite often and swears by the P13, the masman curry. She claimed it is the perfect dish and probably her favorite food, so I felt it was worth my while to try this fabled Thai restaurant.

Its been years since I’ve eaten at Madam Mams. I went to the original by campus one when I was in college (I know, that totally dates me already, so I’ll even admit I used to eat at the Brugger’s Bagels before it was Madam Mams). When it first opened, it was the only Thai restaurant around campus and students flocked to it. I heard all sorts of stories about how perfect the food at Madam Mams was. So I went, and it was good enough, but apparently my young palate wasn’t refined enough for Thai cuisine and never really went back. But over the years I’ve continued to hear stories of how awesome the food is, so I thought I’d give it another chance.

We arrived around noon when lunch was in full swing. The exterior of the restaurant in south Austin is pretty noticable. The building is screaming pink. And I'm not talking Santa Fe adobe pink, I'm talking crazy Asian pink. Parking is apparently a bitch there most of the time, as Becky informed me, but we really didn’t have any trouble finding a space (FYI, there is another lot behind the restaurant). The interior of the restaurant was cute and characteristically Asian. There were hundreds of colorful, painted parasols hanging from the ceiling. It created a nice effect of texture and color. The rest of the joint was pretty unremarkable.

The food on the other hand was quite good. I was really craving sweet potato fries that the Thai restaurant in Fort Worth used to serve. They were awesome, covered in a light golden batter and dipped in a rice wine vinegar and cucumber sauce. Madam Mam's did not have sweet potatoe fried (like most Thai places regretably), so we settled for spring rolls. I tried ordering them without the evil, evil cilantro but I was told they were pre-made and I was going to have to suck it up and eat it (well they didn't say "suck it up" but that was sure implied). I surveyed the bingo list of menu offerings, even though I knew I was going to order the Pad Thai. They had a great selection of Thai dishes. Several soups, a half dozen or so curries, and lots and lots of pads (pad is Thai for stir fry btw). For the main dish, I, of course, ordered the Pad Thai, the measure by which I judge all Thai restaurants (see every other Thai restaurant post if you don't believe me). Becky ordered her favorite P13 (bingo!).

Just as a note, the service here was.. interesting, to say the least. We had 3 different servers. One that took our drink order, one that took our food order, and another that checked up on us. We also got out food as it was available. My Pad Thai came out a good 2 or 3 minutes before Becky's curry. It was a little awkward, but we're good friends so she didn't mind that I dug in before hers arrived.

The spring rolls were very tasty. If there was cilantro in them, I couldn’t tell. The greens were freshly crisp and the peanut sauce had a refreshing zing to it. The Pad Thai was good, but fairly unremarkable. It was a little on the dry side for pad thai, but the flavor was good and overall I was satisfied.. for lunch.. Becky was right, though, the best thing on the menu was the masman curry. I tried a bite of it and it was truly a symphony in my mouth. It was complex, spicy and was really quite good. The peanut and coconut flavors blended beautifully with the curry. Curry on a whole is pretty hard to mess up and in my opinion most curries are quite average. But this curry went above and beyond my bar for "average" curry. Since I couldn’t get it at Thai Passion, I ordered mango sticky rice for dessert. It was really tasty. It was smooth, creamy, slightly salty, coconut goodness. The mango was fresh and perfectly complimented the deliciousness of the sticky rice.

Overall the price is right and the curry is excellent. I’d eat there again.. for lunch..

Mariah – 8