The term mama’s boy is generally used as a criticism but one guy proud to call himself one is Bao Hoang, founder and head chef of restaurant chain mama’s boy. And boy, can this mama’s boy cook!
Originally launched in Melbourne, Mama’s Buoi hit the Sydney food scene in late 2014 under chef Tiw Rakarin- first opening a locale in Surry Hills and then a second in Crows Nest – providing locals with a much needed place to get good quality Vietnamese that also has a classy, trendy ambience to socialise and linger in.
When my friend requested a ‘healthy restaurant’ for us to have a midweek group catchup, I suggested Vietnamese and booked Mama’s Boy the moment there was group consensus. And thank goodness I did. There was no way we would have gotten in otherwise. The place was teaming with people. When a few of the group showed up 10 minutes early, they were told to wait outside until the allotted booking time – our table was still occupied and the bar was full.
When we were lead to our table, I told the waiter the was a chance another may be joining our group. The look of horror he gave me suggested that I’d killed his puppy. He promptly informed me that the table we’d been allocated had no room – thank goodness our extra never showed, I think he would have had a heart attack.
What the place lacks in well mannered staff, it definitely makes up for in atmosphere. Diners sit at giant share tables and booths under a giant cloth canopy, strings of light bulbs and hanging plants. A giant slogan on the wall written in Vietnamese translates to one of life’s very important questions – do you love your Mama? The teal and timber colour scheme and the herb displays around the open plan kitchen echo the freshness and lightness of the food.
And the food was great! Two of the girls got vegetable curries and a side of rice to share, one guy got the morning glory stir fry with minced pork which he almost moaned over, the other sticky beef ribs- gone in two minutes flat, and the last two of us had a vermicelli noodle salad with chicken- salty sweet perfection!
The thing we loved most though was the music. Classics from the 90s and 00s swirled around us causing us to break out in to periods of seat dancing. Definitely a unique (odd?) choice but one I heartily approved of!
I’d love to check out its Crows Nest sister to see if space is more freely available and if the staff are nicer but all in all, Mama’s Buoi is a place and a person I heartily approve of. They’re loving, open to being molded and apparently can cook up a storm! What’s not to love? 😉