Update: I wrote this in the comments below, but figured I’d post an update here so it doesn’t get overlooked. It turns out that the only thing at Madam Mam’s without fish or oyster sauce is G5 (Noodle Lord). They are unwilling to make anything else vegan. The first few times I ate here, I obviously didn’t ask all the right questions. Once I did, it made me realize how important it is to always ask.
A surprising amount of people eat just so they aren’t hungry anymore. They don’t give much thought as to whether or not their food tastes good, they are enjoying the experience, or their meal is presented in an appealing way. They simply want to be full and that’s it. I am not one of those people. I love eating food, smelling food, making food, looking at food, photographing food, talking about food. For that reason, I’m going to start writing more restaurant reviews. If a restaurant makes consistently great meals, I think people should know about it so they can try it out and continue to support it if they agree with my opinion. By the same token, if a restaurant makes consistently bad meals, I think people should know about it so they can be warned not to waste their money.
With that said, I’ve eaten at Madam Mam’s a few times. The first time was at the Guadalupe location when I was in college. I don’t remember what I ordered, so it must not have been very memorable. More recently, I ate at the Westgate location – twice. The first time I ordered masamun curry, which I usually love. The sauce tasted pretty good, but it was kinda watery, there were very few vegetables, and the tofu was ridiculously spongy and porous (the way it gets when it’s been frozen for a long time and reheated). This wouldn’t have been a terrible thing if the pieces were smaller, but they were large enough squares that I wanted to bite each piece in half or cut it with a knife. Unfortunately, it was so spongy, that this was very difficult to do. I’ve heard several people say “I just don’t like tofu. It’s the texture that bothers me.” I wonder if these people experienced tofu for the first time at Madam Mam’s – because then it’s no surprise they’re convinced not to ever eat it again. Tofu should absorb the flavors it cooks in and break apart in your mouth – this is impossible when it’s a deep fried, rubbery block.
Yesterday I ate at Madam Mam’s again with my mom. I thought I’d give it another try, but that was a mistake. The food was so uninspiring, we just started laughing. My mom ordered tofu panang curry. When her meal came out, we poked at the chewy tofu chunks with a fork and watched them spring up and down. Remembering my bad tofu experience, and now knowing that most Thai curries are prepared with fish sauce unless stated otherwise, I ordered the eggplant, which was described as “seasoned with soy sauce, jalapeños, and basil.” When my meal came out (much later than my mom’s did), the large eggplant pieces were very much undercooked and it really did taste like the only seasoning in the dish was soy sauce. Eggplant can either be very good or very bad. It tastes amazing when it’s marinated in delicious spices and simmered in sauce until it’s tender and mushy and melts in your mouth. When it’s very thick and hasn’t been cooked completely, the inside is still whitish in color, it has a very dense, meaty texture and the sauces haven’t been absorbed into the middle. The result is a very chewy, bland substance that you don’t really want to keep in your mouth very long. Icky.
People give Madam Mam’s pretty good reviews for the most part. I just don’t understand the appeal. They offer about 40 different menu items, many of which sound pretty much the same. I wish they would just narrow their menu to about 10 meal options and focus on preparing them with love.
If you want great Thai food, I recommend Titaya’s Thai Cuisine on 2222 and Lamar. The staff is nice, their meals come out fast, and there is a note on their menu stating that everything ordered with tofu is automatically prepared vegan. Go for the lunch special, and make sure you order a salad instead of the soup. I’ll write a complete review on this place in a future post.