Bali Memoir: Dining Under Mama San's Watchful Eyes


Like entering a time capsule, I was transported back to Shanghai Golden Era
In the far corner, Mama San stood quietly, looking resplendent in the figure-hugging qi pao

The Shanghai 1930's themed interior
The name Mama San couldn't have been more appropriate to name this establishment. By definition, Mama San is used to refer to the lady-in-charge at a Geisha house, a bar or a kitchen. The founding Chef Will Meyrick has travelled to the far corners of Asia to learn from unsuspecting ladies, with a flair in cooking of course. These ladies, are the a-mah in China, mbok in Java, mama-san in Japan and many other names in each places. Granted, this name has a dodgy connotation that some might associate with nightlife. Such association is not totally wrong actually, as Mama San transforms on daily basis. At daytime, she is a nourishing Mama who dishes out street-food-themed noodle bowls and as the sun sets, she transforms into an enigmatic, sensual Madame who lures you into the beauty of nightlife.

The bar & lounge on 2nd storey
Mama San Bali is a Kitchen, Bar and Lounge that's sucking everyone's attention like a black hole. Local and overseas travel and leisure media alike, are taking turns to feature Mama San and its founder Chef Will Meyrick in their issues. On my recent  trip to Bali, I had the pleasure of enjoying a sumptuous lunch at Mama San and my host couldn't have been any better: it was Will himself.

Being on a holiday didn't eliminate my craving for caffeine, so I ordered rather fancy sounding coffee, the Tiramisu Frape. I had imagined Starbucks'-like ice blended Frappuccino, which I disliked. So, I requested the Tiramisu Frape to be made Iced. The menu said it's supposed to have grated Snickers, but mine came decorated with a piece of Stikko, instead.
Lamb and Pumpkin Pot Stickers with Chili Oil and Black Vinegar IDR 55,000
Thai Fish Cakes with Sweet Chili Sauce & Pickled Cucumber IDR 60,000
Without further ado, the 2 appetizers that Will personally selected for us arrived. Knowing that I’m not really into exotic seafood, he picked the Lamb and Pumpkin Pot Stickers (in Asia we call it guo tie/ kuo tie/ jiǎozi / gyoza) with Chili Oil and Black Vinegar. Lamb and pumpkin for a kuo tie filling, who would've thought of that? Well, Mama San did!

Another appetizer was the Thai Fish Cakes with Sweet Chili Sauce & Pickled Cucumber. I personally believe that it was the best fish cake I’ve ever had, granted, my experience is still quite limited. I love how the fish cake tickled my tongue with its fragrant tangy spices and the chunky herbs inside added the surprise element as I chewed each flavoursome bites. It hit such a perfect harmony when consumed with the sweet chili sauce, which balances out any excess flavours that would otherwise be overwhelming if the fish cake is eaten plain. Mama I want more, please?
Char Sui Pork Noodles Soup with Pork and Prawn Dumpling, Gailan and Beansprout IDR 90,000   
And on to the main course, Will's Roasted Duck with Shanghai Noodles, Duck Wonton and Bokchoy came first. Soon enough, my Char Sui Pork Noodles Soup with Pork and Prawn Dumpling, Gailan and Beansprout joined us at the table. The noodles was very thin and springy, Mama knows exactly what I like! The tender and sweet char siu was very generous, more than enough to fill my tummy for lunch. But screw diet! You can't say no to Mama's hard work.

A very generous dessert platter
As if knowing that I'm a sucker for sweet stuff, Mama spoiled me even further with a normal serving-size dessert platter consisting 6 items! Yes, no kidding! And those six were:
v  Mung Bean Cake - it's the square block in the middle, topped with, guess what? Fried shallots! Quite a twist.
v  Coconut Ice Cream - home made ice cream, just the right level of sweetness.
v  Black Sticky Rice with Mango & Coconut Cream - Will conceded the black sticky rice was quite dry, not the standard he expects from the staff. 
v  Deep Fried Ice Cream with Nutella - this is orgasmic! A round scoop of coconut ice cream, wrapped in a layer of bread, deep-fried and precariously nestled on the sticky Nutella. This was the first dessert that I finsihed out of the 6.
v  Chai Tea Caramel Custard - scoop all the way to the bottom to get the honey and eat with the custard. The Chai custard  alone is quite intense, but very very fragrant.
v Poached Pumpkin - Unfortunately, this one was outshined by the hubbub of dessert. It was actually a well-done number, a reminiscent of kolak, but made with pumpkin.

Mama, can I come back again? I asked sheepishly
You'll be most welcome here, sayang...

*) Prices are subject to 6.5% Service Charge and 10% PHR

Mama San Bali
JL. Raya Kerobokan No. 135
Ph: +62 361 730436
www.mamasanbali.com

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