Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hmmm... Muum Maam

“I don’t know”. It’s been my default response to many a question from an early age, and is sadly becoming a bit of a mantra these days, generally to do with the future.

But how does one know anything? How do you know that the career path you’ve chosen/stumbled into is really what you want to do? How do you know when it’s the right time for a major capital investment? How do you know if a business venture will soar or flop? How are you supposed to know if this world is meant for ‘good times’ or something more? I can’t believe, with conviction, that anyone knows.

The unknown, rather than scaring me these days, just annoys me. Be something already.

Muum Maam, Holt Street, Surry Hills
Forward-looking grumbles aside, a visit to a Thai restaurant is rarely an adventure of the unknown anymore. Rather, it can be a journey of the tried and tested familiar favourites, with a twist if you please.

Muum Maam is such a place; a two-month old residing in Holt Street, backed by the A Tavola/Omerta/Gelato Messina guys, next to Jared Ingersoll’s Cotton Duck and Vini further down.

Mural inside
It’s a quiet street with lots of apartments and commercial office blocks. On a quiet Wednesday night we find ourselves in a particularly funky and stylish office building that houses restaurants and bathrooms, sitting at one end of a long communal table.

The look is industrial and modern with stylised hints of the homeland. By day, the restaurant plays to the lunch crowd as Tuk Shop, the daytime iteration serving more casual, lunch-friendly Thai dishes – many that also appear on the dinner menu.

Rice crackers
The complimentary rice crackers disappeared with speed; tri-coloured pieces of crunchy, salty and slightly sweet netted pieces.

Lemongrass sour
There’s no better place to start than cocktails, although I can’t have the mandarin and mint sgroppino due to seasonal unavailability.

I’m pretty satisfied with the lemongrass sour though, with its perfect layer of eggwhite foam on top (not entirely sure about the glasses). It’s a tad sour and unexpectedly sweet, though not nearly as much as the other cocktails.

Lychee and kaffir lime capriosca
The lychee and kaffir lime ‘capriosca’ seems to be the house favourite, with good reason. Filled with fragrant, ripped kaffir lime leaves that would try and sneak into the straw, this cocktail was sweet, fruity and full of citrusy perfume.

Pandan, coconut and pineapple spritzer
The spritzer was served icy and tall with a slight green tinge from the pandan. We were warned that this was a sweet drink, and it was. It also had quite a heavy coconut flavour that could be overwhelming after too many consecutive mouthfuls.

Roselle water
A range of non-alcoholic flavoured waters were also available - this the roselle water which is one of the hibiscus-related flowers in a crimson coloured, slightly medicinally flavoured beverage, not necessarily everyone's taste.

Smoked ocean trout and caviar betel leaves
Girly conversation and catch-ups meant it took us a while to order, but we eventually selected a few entrees and mains to share, mindful of leaving room for dessert.

It’s been a while since I had one, but the ocean trout betel leaf miang didn’t enthral me like others have. In fact, the only thing I could really taste was the very sweet syrup drizzled over the cooked fish and salmon roe.

So overpowering was the sweetness, I can barely remember the rest of the fillings, which probably included coconut, lime, chilli and ginger.

Salt and pepper tofu and eggplant
The next entrée was much more satisfying, not the least because it included one of my favourite vegetables. The salt and pepper style deep fried tofu triangles and thick eggplant slices were more a triumph of texture than flavour.

The salt and pepper was a little lost on me, but not a concern given the sweet chilli dipping sauce. The thin layer of golden batter on the tofu contrasted perfectly with the soft, white, wobbling inside, while the eggplant is rarely awkward with its good flavour mate of oil.

Red curry of roasted duck and lychees
After an appropriate pause after the entrees and another round of cocktails, steamed rice was served to each plate, in preparation for the mains.

The soupy appearance of the red duck curry wasn’t helped by its serving vessel (which matched all the other crockery too), but there was a substantial amount in there: lots of skin-on small pieces of roast duck, pineapple pieces and lychee. The latter two ingredients made it quite a sweet and mild curry, comforting with sauce soaked rice.

Shredded banana blossom and prawn salad
A not-too-spicy curry was ideal given the heat of the banana blossom salad. Unsuspecting, I started with a mouthful of the heavily dressed salad of banana blossom juliennes and mint among other ingredients in a coconut-creamy peanut sauce that was spiced to the nines - only to numb my tongue somewhat before even getting to the fresh, crisp, tail-on prawns.

Crying tiger - grilled beef
The crying tiger was a good call, which you could smell a mile away. Slices of beautifully charred-edge beef was served alongside cucumber and raw cabbage, and a garlicky dipping sauce. Done in a simple fashion, the beef was the star of this show – tender and beefy sweet.

Morning glory stir fried with soybean paste, chilli and garlic
The vegetable fix came in the form of morning glory, otherwise known as water spinach, ong choy or kankung. These slightly chewy, hollow stems were flavoured well  in the soybean sauce with lots of flavour from garlic and a little from chilli.

Tuk Shop branded takeaway
Given the overzealous ordering (as is common), we requested takeaway for some of the leftovers, which returned in brown paper bags stamped with the restaurant's daytime alterego.

Black sticky rice with Thai custard and coconut sorbet
But there had to be room for dessert. A few had been earmarked from the first sighting of the menu, so sweets had to be done. The Thai classic of black sticky rice is usually my pick of the bunch, for the elongated, tender, sticky grains of red-black rice, sugary and doused in coconut cream

This Thai custard was unexpectedly brown, probably from palm sugar rather than coffee as someone supposed, and the gorgeous coconut sorbet was the perfect cool note to round it off.

Sticky rice with coconut jam and mango sorbet
More sticky rice in a sugary concoction, this variety was exceptionally sweet given the presence of coconut jam, if not a little too sweet. The slight tartness of the mango sorbet was a relief in this case - yet another outstandingly divine scoop.

After a good stuffing with some of the tried and tested favourites at Muum Maam, it's clear that there's absolutely nothing wrong with them. Why does the future have to be different? Indeed, why can't it just be what you enjoy and are comfortable with - sure, a funky setting helps - as long as it makes you happy, or content at the very least?

Muum Maam on Urbanspoon


joey@FoodiePop said...

Love the scary red mural! Grrr.

Another dud in the salt and pepper tofu scorecard; there seems to be more misses than hits with this dish. Lucky there was a spicy dipping sauce huh? :-)

chocolatesuze said...

i loooove sticky rice desserts and that one looks fab!

MelbaToast said...

All looks pretty tasty, especially those cocktails!

missklicious said...

The desserts look yummy!

Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said...

I kind of got lost after the cocktails =D Mmm been a while since I've had decent Thai.

Anonymous said...

Heard a lot of good reviews about this new Thai place. The desserts look good!

Tina said...

Hi joey - Yeah, but it was passable - just not salt and pepper...

Hi suze - Me too, had it even though I was stuffed!

Hi MelbaToast - Yep, some good drinking to be had :)

Hi missklicious - They were - esp the sorbets!

Hi Angie - :D so did we

Hi Ellie - Yeah, it's getting a bit of attention. And I always love Thai desserts... :)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Hehe we always over order too and then take away what we can't eat. After all leftovers the next day are so much fun! :D

thang @ noodlies said...

gosh that's a big order, interesting menu, cocktails are a great idea... hum...

Tina said...

Hi Lorraine - Yes, leftovers are like re-living the experience!

Hi thang - Well, it was between four... plus leftovers :)

the ninja said...

When thinking about the unknown most ninjas say "there's a shuriken out there with your name on it"

I prefer to think of the shuriken as a whiskey (or perhaps lemongrass) sour and it being plural rather than singular

Good to see that your familiarity with Thai food has bred the very opposite of contempt =)

Tina said...

Hi ninja - Perhaps it was the lemongrass sour that smoothed things over to start.


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