Jen Welch [Email address: %20mizjen68 #AT# gmail.com - replace #AT# with @ ]
My coworkers and I celebrated the much-anticipated opening of Madam Mam’s newest location on Anderson Lane with a lunchtime visit during opening week. Despite continuing construction at The Village Shopping Center that made for tricky parking, the interior of the restaurant was peaceful and cool. We were all impressed with the updated interior – stained concrete flooring, Asian-themed artwork, and dozens of brightly colored parasols hanging from the ceiling make the transformation from the old Shanghai River complete. Although there was a lunch rush, we were seated immediately, and each of us was presented with a stack of menus – a multi-page bound menu, a laminated one-page menu, and a small paper special menu. Because we had a limited time for lunch, we all ordered from the simple single-page menu. One of my coworkers, who is a regular at the other Madam Mam’s locations, warned us to take the menu’s chili pepper rating system seriously; remarking that even items with a one-pepper rating would be spicy. I soon found out he was right, as my order of Yum Green Bean, which was rated two peppers, was right at the threshold of my tolerance level. Luckily, a glass of sweet and frothy Thai iced tea helped to cut the hot pepper burn. The food itself was delicious; a mix of fresh, crisp, steamed green beans, boiled egg, shredded coconut meat, and a tasty sauce of lime juice, honey, and seasonings. It was so good that I brought my husband back for supper just a few days later.
Since that initial visit, my husband and I have visited Madam Mam’s several times. The menus have become no less confusing, but we are enjoying working our way through them. Because you can order most entrees with your choice of protein (chicken, beef, fish/shrimp, pork, or tofu) and either rice or one of a variety of noodle types, the possibilities are almost endless. My husband has tried chicken, fish, and beef dishes and has enjoyed all of them. He reports that the meats have been cooked and seasoned well, and his only minor complaint would be that there are few vegetables included in many of the entrees he’s tried, leaving him to poach from my plate. I have so far only ordered vegetables or tofu-based entrees, and have found them all to be delicious, with large soft cubes of tofu and well-cooked (but not overcooked) vegetables. One caveat for strict vegetarians: ordering tofu as your protein does not guarantee a vegetarian meal, as many of the sauces use ingredients that contain fish. If you have any doubts, ask your waiter or waitress. I have found the staff at Madam Mam’s to be very helpful, and one night actually had a server who was certain that I would not like an item and gently, but persistently, advised me to select something else. I took her advice, chose one of the entrees she suggested, and was rewarded with a very tasty meal.
The prices at Madam Mam’s are reasonable, with appetizers ranging from $3.50 – 10.95 and entrees ranging from $6.95 – 15.95 for special entrees. There are a variety of teas and soft drinks on the menu, but the restaurant does not have a liquor license. I have noticed some diners bring their own wine. We have not tried any of the desserts, but I find the delicious Thai iced tea satisfies my sweet tooth pretty well.
A final suggestion for anyone planning to visit any Madam Mam’s location: visit their website first. The Madam Mam’s website, www.madammam.com, has a link to the restaurant’s full menu, so you can get a feel for the extensive number of dishes they offer. Even better is the Articles link, which leads to informative articles about Thai cuisine, written by Austin Chronicle senior contributing food writer Mick Vann. I found the series of articles on Thai Seasonings particularly helpful, and, once I’d read them, I was able to enjoy a lovely meal with my husband without him having to whip out the iPhone to Google mysterious ingredients such as magrood or galangal.
Although there are several Asian-style restaurants in the Allandale area, Madam Mam’s is a welcome change of pace for those who want to try something spicy and new. Maybe we’ll see you there!
Madam Mam’s, 2700 W. Anderson Ln, open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily