Restaurant Review: Mamabuns at Mamagoto

Mamagoto has been our go-to place for good, informal, fun South Asian food for several years now, ever since it opened its first outlet at Select CityWalk Mall. I love the easy-going ambience, the quirky and colourful illustrations on the walls (Tigers? A fish on a scooter? Tuk-tuks?). I really like their beverages (okay, I don’t usually drink alcohol, so I can’t comment on that, but they have some wonderful mocktails, including a kaffir lime and mint lemonade which could be the dictionary definition for ‘refreshing’).

And I love their food. All the way from an addictive rock shrimp tempura (served with chilli mayonnaise) to a raw papaya salad, chicken satay, a wonderful green bean and snow pea salad dressed with a coconut and peanut sauce—to main courses like their fabulous teriyaki meal in a bowl (we invariably opt for the lamb version, which comes cooked with onions and bok choy, served with rice). All of it, the many dozens of times we’ve eaten at Mamagoto, has been uniformly good.

This time, meeting up for a friend (and a film blogger, too; bollyviewer) for lunch, I suggested Mamagoto at Khan Market. We decided to go for an early lunch, and arrived just a little past 12.30 (Mamagoto opens at 12.30). Up the flight of stairs to the restaurant, and we found that except for a couple sitting near a window, we were the only other guests. (Not for long, though: by the time we left, less than an hour later, the restaurant had filled up).

What I was particularly keen on checking out was a relatively new concept Mamagoto have introduced: Mamabuns. Yes, it does sound a little odd (especially if you’ve never heard of the classic Vietnamese baguette sandwiches), but it’s supposed to be sandwiches and burgers with Oriental-style fillings. There’s a range of fillings available, all the way from veggie (mushrooms and tofu included) to fish, chicken, pork, etc. The sandwich (or burger—whatever you choose) comes with potato wedges and chilli mayonnaise, plus two sides of pickled vegetables. And—a real incentive for people who want a low carb meal—you can order the dish in the form of a salad.

The Mamabuns menu at Mamagoto.

The Mamabuns menu at Mamagoto.

I picked a Pattaya beach shack fried fish, salad style. Bollyviewer, who decided to stick with Mamagoto’s regular menu (not Mamabuns), ordered the laksa tribute (a noodle soup, in a delicious spiced coconut broth; this can be ordered as a vegetarian version, a chicken one, or a prawn one; bollyviewer ordered chicken). Both of us decided to skip a drink, because we wanted to leave space for dessert.

Our food arrived a reasonable while later. Bollyviewer’s laksa tribute came in a large black bowl brimming with the mild, turmeric-yellow curry-like soup, with half a hard-boiled egg and a wedge of lime balanced atop two chopsticks laid across the top of the bowl. I’ve had this before (in fact, the very same thing: the chicken version), so can vouch for it: it’s good, hearty comfort food. Pretty much like a Burmese khao suey, though with fewer of the classic garnishes.

The laksa tribute at Mamagoto: this one's the chicken version, though there are veggie and prawn versions too.

The laksa tribute at Mamagoto: this one’s the chicken version, though there are veggie and prawn versions too.

My Pattaya beach shack fried fish came in a large boat-shaped dish, a crumb-fried fillet of fish, sliced and placed atop a bed of mixed salad leaves and herbs: lettuce, lots of basil, mint, green coriander, even rocket leaves. There was a layer of caramelized onions here too, and a generous dressing with all the flavours of South East Asia: sweet, sour, salty, hot. This was absolutely perfect on its own, every forkful fresh, vibrant, so very Thailand.

(Besides the lightly spiced potato wedges with the chilli mayonnaise on the side, there was also a small bowl of pickled julienned carrots and what seemed like raw papaya; and a small bowl of a very unusual relish of finely chopped guava, lightly pickled. This one, while it’s not something I’d go back for, was at least fairly offbeat for me, and interesting).

Pattaya beach shack fried fish, one of the Mamabuns offerings - without the bread.

Pattaya beach shack fried fish, one of the Mamabuns offerings – without the bread.

Main course over, both of us examined the dessert menu (which is dominated—as so many menus of even Oriental or non-Western restaurants in Delhi are—by brownies and cakes). I had just about settled on a delectable-sounding coconut and lime drizzle loaf, when the waiter came along to inform us that only three desserts were available: brownies, caramel sponge cake, and coconut and palm sugar ice cream. Hobson’s choice, really, for both bollyviewer and me, since both of us wanted something at least slightly reminiscent of the Orient. The ice cream it was.

…and it was good. Creamy, coconutty without being overpoweringly so, sweet to the point of being pleasant, not syrupy. Three scoops of it, too, a generous portion.

The coconut and palm sugar ice cream at Mamagoto: luscious.

The coconut and palm sugar ice cream at Mamagoto: luscious.

Our bill, including taxes and service charge, was Rs 1,740. For the sort of meal we had, I’d say that was value for money. It’s a given that I’ll be back at Mamagoto sooner or later; the next time, too, I’m going to go for the Mamabuns menu, and check out one of the other dishes on it.

Mamagoto
53, Khan Market
Tel: 011-45166060

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10 thoughts on “Restaurant Review: Mamabuns at Mamagoto

  1. Guess what? There is this Mamagoto outlet in Bombay and I was thinking of trying it out but then I read tis review which you can see is totally at odds with yours. I guess it is similar to your experience with Mainland China, that is while I enjoyed every Mainland China I ate at, it was not the case with you.. Now having read your review I wonder whether I should check out for myself.

    • Yes, I’ve heard bad reviews of the Mamagoto in Mumbai too. I am part of a Facebook foodie group called Eat Treat, which mainly consists of Delhi-based people, though there are also lots of people from other cities as well as abroad. The Delhi people had been raving about Mamagoto for so long that when it finally opened in Mumbai, some people naturally went to eat – and came away disappointed. I guess it’s a combination of expectations having been built up, and a lack of standardisation. It’s a similar case with other restaurants, too – Mainland China, as you mention; also, I believe, Yauatcha – Michelin-rated in London, excellent in Delhi, but I’ve heard pretty bad in Mumbai.

      Check out Mamagoto for yourself, Shilpi. I’d like to know what you think!

  2. Chicken laksa? I more or less lived on Laksa during my two years in Singapore (with frequent forays to Malaysia), haven’t ever, ever come across this concoction. Maybe they use Laksa spices on a chicken stock base. I don’t know, just cannot wrap my mind around this. Guess I’m too used to the idea of laksa as fish soup. Think sarson da saag made of curly kale.

    And incidentally, aren’t Vietnamese baguette sandwiches called Bahn-mi?

    • Well, they do call it a ‘laksa tribute’: not a genuine laksa. And you know the Dilliwallahs’ love for chicken… besides, chicken versions of laksa, while they may not be common in Singapore or Malaysia, are fairly popular outside – UK and Australia, for example. By the way, if I remember correctly, I have had a chicken laksa in either Penang or KL, years ago.

      Yup, the Vietnamese baguette sandwiches – with pork floss – are called banh mi. The only time I’ve had one was in Delhi itself, at The Hungry Monkey. Not nice at all.

      • > Well, they do call it a ‘laksa tribute’: not a genuine laksa.

        Oh, that’s a nice one!

        > they may not be common in Singapore or Malaysia, are fairly popular outside – UK and Australia, for example.

        Really? That’s what I’d call incipient kaliyuga.

        > I have had a chicken laksa in either Penang or KL, years ago.

        Malaysia even? Hell, kaliyuga intensifies.

        > The only time I’ve had one was in Delhi itself, at The Hungry Monkey. Not nice at all.

        I tend to see your point. My own experience with Bahn mi was that the ingredients themselves tend to be exceedingly bland. It’s only when they are combined in the right proportion that the magic happens. And in the hands of the untrained, there’s every likelihood that the magic won’t happen. A well-made bahn-mi, OTOH, is certainly something I’d look forward to.

        • Of course it’s kalyug. Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of tandoori momos and chowmein dosa (or, as I noticed yesterday on the Sagar Ratna menu, spring roll dosa). Gobhi manchurian is now passe.

          All this talk about bahn-mi makes me want to try and see if Blue Ginger have one on their menu.

  3. Madhu, here are my impressions in order:
    1. You make me hungry. Even when I don’t eat non-veg. Your reviews are that good.
    2. I’m jealous – you and B went out without your masala sister. I think I shall go away and sing a sad song.
    3. I’ll send you an email. :)

    • So, masala sister, come on over. Now Delhi’s weather is getting pleasant, so it’s a good time to come visiting. :-) And bollyviewer and I can take you out and we can have a really good lunch! (And I can take you on a heritage tour). And we can watch a movie or two.

  4. wow the food looks yummy….It made me hungry….i am very fond of different kinds of food and hence your post attracted me so much…i wish i could visit the place you referred…keep posting.,…thank u

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