I have walked past Mama’s Buoi before, in the hidden laneway alongside GPO. On one hand I thought, “Another Vietnamese place?” But at the same time I was curious.
Coincidentally they were launching a new menu and I was lucky enough to attend an event to try it out. David and Georgia from Wasamedia were a delight to dine with as they told us about a bacon festival in Sydney and how David has travelled and eaten the whole animal kingdom.
And with the extensive menu of Mama’s Buoi it almost felt like we ate exactly that. We started off with some mocktails/cocktails and I enjoyed a strawberry mojito mocktail below. In addition to the modern menu, the eatery has a large variety of drinks to enjoy with your dinner.
Our first dish of prawn crackers and pate is an unsurprising result of French influence on the Vietnamese. The pate was addictive, a meaty yet sophisticated flavour. The prawn crackers were not your everyday pink ones but lighter with sesame seeds.
The pulled duck pancakes were like a modern take on peking duck, but I didn’t find it too special – probably because I highly enjoy duck skin when it comes to peking duck.
Similarly to a previous event, I found some dishes were common and not necessarily Vietnamese, such as the school prawns and crispy pork belly. Although who can pass on that crackling?
However, this was balanced with traditional dishes such as the rice noodles stuffed with pork, mushroom and shallot. This is a favourite of my own mother’s recipes and I’d love for it to be the next Vietnamese dish to become popular. The noodles are thick and flat, almost in the shape of a sausage roll with meat inside but flatter and tastier!
The following steamed barramundi with lemongrass (below), ginger chicken stir fry with bok choi and mushroom and snow pea stir fry were reminiscent of home cooked dishes.
They aren’t specifically Vietnamese specialities but the flavours such as ginger and lemongrass are consistent with homemade meals.
We also got to try some items not on the menu, to see what sort of feedback we had. This included the steak roll Vietnamese salad wrap with citrus and green chilli dressing. My family doesn’t make this but it’s tasty with the right dressing, beautifully presented but hard to eat without stuffing it all in your mouth!
A more experimental dish was the reconstructed Canh Chua (sour soup) with fried noodles, mussels, calamari and prawn. Canh chua is quite a traditional and common soup often containing fish, although I prefer one that has a richer tomato flavour.
The soup in this one was light and flavoursome and I loved the idea of serving it with a bird’s nest – crunchy fried noodles – often seen in Chinese restaurants.
Perhaps the most popular dish of the night was the caramelised pork belly hot pot with boiled egg (unfortunately we didn’t get a good photo). To be honest we heard the word ‘pork belly’, got distracted and didn’t recognise the English translation of one of the most common Vietnamese dishes – thit kho.
The pork belly was soft and the sauce slightly sweet. To those who are not Vietnamese, the dish was new and exciting. For the.adventouriist and I, this is the dish that our mothers cook giant pots of when they don’t know what else to make. Its magic was a little lost on us because of this association but I’m glad to see other people enjoy it.
After this feast of food, we were treated to a dessert of a reconstructed three colour drink with black jelly, pandan jelly, rum and mung bean puree, basil seeds, jack fruit and coconut milk.
This is a common dessert but it can have its own twist with its layers of flavour. I love Vietnamese jellies and their softer texture, so this mixture was easy to gulp down.
Overall a great night and a good way to introduce people to Vietnamese dishes other than pho and rice paper rolls.
It still has a bit more of a modern theme and influence compared to many Vietnamese shops in the suburbs. My favourite dish was probably the Canh Chua so hopefully they introduce this unique version onto the menu.
The Pho cocktail also goes down well with its hint of chicken rather than beef pho. If I hadn’t known, I wouldn’t have realised it was pho except for the slight aftertaste. Give it a shot – I hear they are coming up with some more creative drinks too!
Mama’s Buoi is located on Postal Lane (between Myer & GPO), Melbourne.
*Mon’s Adventures was invited as a guest of Mama’s Buoi and Wasamedia. All opinions are my own. Photos by me and the.adventouriist.