Mamma Always Said is a quirky name for this new all-day diner by Meraki Hospitality Group (BEDU and Uma Nota), located in the spot that the group’s Malaysian street-food eatery JALAN once operated. This casual, laid-back all-day diner is where to head if you want to kick back and relax with comfort-food eats from around the world. Amazingly, it boasts two Foodie Forks 2020 winners at the helm, Executive Chef Corey Riches (Editors’ Choice Chef of the Year) and Laura Offe, the co-founder of Meraki Hospitality (Readers’ Choice Food Hero).
The lunch and dinner menus at Mamma Always Said are quite different. The lunch menu is simpler, featuring daily specials, three salads, two pasta dishes, several sandwich options and daily dessert (plus the most delicious-looking brioche jam doughnuts that we’ll definitely be back to try). To drink, there’s a selection of
fresh juices, smoothies, coffee and tea and soft drinks. We went teetotal and opted for the unlimited still (or sparkling) water ($40) – fab, because nothing upsets us more than ordering a bottle of water at a restaurant and later finding out we’re down $80 or more bucks.
There are bar seats by the big windows, a few round tables – well spaced out – and seats at the bar in the back, which is where we chose to sit for lunch.
We took a sneaky peek at the dinner menu and ordered this burrata cheese ($95) to start. The toasted bread bits (similar in style to a panzanella salad) and sharp olives were excellent foils to the creamy, dreamy globe of burrata. Our only complaint? The tomatoes were surprisingly unripe and bland.
The roast cauliflower salad ($45 for ½; $85 for whole) was one of our favourite lunch dishes, very
generous in size for a half-portion. Roasting cauliflower turns it into a kind of veg crack, and we loved the Middle Eastern complements of tabouli and yoghurt dressing, which pay tribute to the flavours of BEDU courtesy of Chef Riches.
The crispy squid salad ($45 for ½; $85 for whole) was missing its homemade tartare sauce at the bottom of the bowl, so we asked for it on the side. The crispy squid bites were delicious (as all deep-fried eats are), but we think they lost a bit of their crunch mixed into the cucumber salad, though the flavour of the dressing on the greens was wonderfully punchy.
Mamma Always Said’s toasted sandwiches have been taking over the ‘gram, and it’s not hard to see why after
witnessing first-hand all that glorious cheese-pull action. We opted for the most popular of these sarnies – the chicken, pesto and cheese ($95) – and while the trifecta of toasted ingredients was indeed tasty and indulgent, the chicken itself was on the tough and stringy side. Next time, we’ll go for the country ham, cheese and tomato relish version.
The prawn, cherry tomato and chilli linguine ($110) is the winner from the pasta section with its silky strands
laced with a good amount of plump prawns and spicy tomato sauce.
The daily dessert special was this passion fruit cheesecake ($45), which Chef Riches explained is based on his mum’s family recipe and takes 12 hours to create, made not with a standard cheesecake biscuit crust but one of rolled bread and banana. The passion fruit cream was wonderfully sharp, and the layer of coconut jelly in the centre made for a lovely contrast in flavour and texture.
A colleague had previously had dinner at Mamma Always Said, and her favourite dish on the tapas-style
dinner menu was the grilled cauliflower ($110) with rocket pesto, Parmesan and toasted almond slivers. Chef Riches seems to have a way with this cruciferous veggie!
The dash of cumin in the beast that is the grilled octopus ($125) made this dish stand out for dinner, along with the delicious pool of romesco on which the mollusc rested.
Already a signature dish at Mamma Always Said, the homemade XO fried chicken wings ($85) were tasty
Mamma Always Said is a great addition to the Meraki Hospitality portfolio. We like the chilled, homey vibe, and the comfort-food menu is just what we need right now.
While we weren’t in the mood for boozing, there’s quite a creative drink menu on offer, with highlights of ready-made speedy cocktails ($65 each) – there’s one called Thelma and one called Louise – as well as made-to-order Asian-inspired tipples such as Mammaste Chai ($75), mixed with vodka, milk tea, condensed milk and spices. The bottles of wine are listed in cheeky sections, ranging from “I’m on a Budget” to “It’s on the Boss”. And, like Mamma always said, you can pay it forward with the Good Deed of the Day ($30) – a shot for the table next to you.
Note that Meraki Hospitality Group also has a Meraki at Home option for those opting for takeaway or delivery – click here for all the details, with the Ultimate Dinner Combo ($200/1 or $380/2) at Mamma Always Said offering extremely good value for your dollar.
42 Peel Street, SoHo, Central, 2386 2216
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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