Mama San Bali – she didn’t spank me!

Mama San is an antiquated term that refers to a woman of authority in a geisha house or drinking holes in South East Asia – I salut this woman and I have no idea why Chef Will Meyrick & Palm Amatawet named their restaurant this. Perhaps is a shout out to all the Mama san’s of Asia!? Anyway the gig is a simple one of rustling up plates inspired by flavours from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Chuck in a cookery school upstairs, super sleek wine displays (everything has a price) and a cocktail bar serving up your classics with a twist in a Shanghainese 1920’s British colonial setting, gives you Mama San.

There is a big group of us so a set menu is planned ahead by the kitchen. 

Lamb and pumkin pot sticker with chilli and black vinegar – it’s always good to try new combinations and this one worked. 

Kachooris with yellow dahl, coriander & mustard seeds served with mint and tamarind chutney were crispy deep fried treats with a nicely spiced filling. 

Peking duck and green mango, carrot, shrimp and “nouc Cham” dressing. Acidity, spice, freshness and fragrancy in abundance.

Grilled Thai beef salad with cherry tomato, mint, Thai basil, cucumber – served cold yet impactful from the freshness and the slithers of pink beef were lovely.   

“Pad Thai” rice noodles, with egg, peanuts, dried shrimp, pickled turnip, tofu, beansprouts. Sadly, it was nothing special, I’ve had better. 

“Dendeng belado” caramelised short rib with kafir lime, chilli and lemon basil. Gnarly looking things that didn’t really do anything for me. I’m sure they’d taste better somewhere else. 

Stir fired prawn with chilli jam, cashew nuts, long beans, baby corn and Thai basil

Masaman curry with chicken, sweet potato, shallots, pumpkin, peanuts and tamarind

Jasmine rice. 

Deserts came in a sample platter of Asian treats consisting of a wedge of mung bean cake, topped with crispy shallots, coconut ice cream, black sticky rice with mango, chai tea caramel custard, jackfruit cake and some sort of poached pumpkin in a martini glass. I’d say all were interesting to taste but I couldn’t eat a whole one of any of them as they didn’t get my pulse racing.  

The verdict:

When did I go? June 2015
The damage: Expect to pay $25-$45 (£15- £30) per head no booze
The good: Mama San felt like one of those meals when you’re in a plush West End London (without naming and shaming) which was pleasant, mainstream but nothing to shout home about. Don’t get me wrong it was interesting but easily forgettable. The low lit ambient vibe is ideal for dates and the extensive cocktail menu aims to please.
The bad: It just wasn’t special
Rating: 3/5
Would I go again? Nah – curious to see more of Bali.
Address: Jl. Raya Kerobokan No.135, Kerobokan Kelod, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Phone: +62 813-3942-3033

Mama San Bali

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