Picture this: two petite sized girls. There are six enormous dishes in front of them. They've ordered so much that they need to move to another table to fit all the plates.
Yes one of the girls in question was me. I was with my buddy Laura - we are both afflicted with eyes bigger than stomach syndrome and we bring out the most frenzied in ordering of each other. By day Muum Maam dishes up their versions of Thai "traditional street hawker food" to the Surry Hills crowd (mostly journalists and PRs). During the day you order at the cart at the front and by night the cart is put away and it turns into a different space, a restaurant with table service. Which, we overhear, is slightly bothering the lady at the table next to us who dined here at dinner time and has now come back with a friend to a very casual version during the day.
We're here for lunch and we stake a place by a very small table and stools while Laura goes to order. She comes back slightly distressed. "Half of the stuff we wanted to order wasn't available, they've run out" she says breathlessly, "so I ordered this and this and this" she says pointing at the paper menu. I count five dishes in total but I can understand the ordering frenzy. It is just before 1pm on a Friday so an odd time to be running out of things considering the rush is to come. And service is a bit hit and miss, some staff have it together whilst others don't as much. All items, including tap water have to be ordered from the cart.
Rice paper rolls with roast duck, cucumber and sweet soy $7
The prawn and pork cakes were sold out so Laura ordered the rice paper rolls with roast duck, cucumber and sweet soy. The rice paper is soft, supple and fresh and they're not bad, mostly full of crunchy lettuce and vegetables, the roast duck not making much of an impression against the vegetables.
Chilli chopped chicken, basil and fried egg $14
Prices are excellent here especially for the serving sizes and I guess that is to cater for the lunch crowd. The jade green plates comes out heaving with food and this chilli chopped chicken with mince and finely sliced green beans is all flavour and texture. There is a delicious sauce that the rice soaks up and a large fried egg omelette on top.
Green papaya, dried shrimp, cherry tomatoes and roasted peanuts $13
The green papaya salad was fresh and crunchy made even more so with the roasted peanuts. I usually go for this dish if it has some roast pork or seafood in it as I think it adds a lot to a salad. However Laura is a pescatarian so we ordered a vegetarian version of the dish.
Prawn, hens egg and Chinese broccoli fried rice $15
This was another dish with a good range of flavours and texture there were large, succulent prawns in this dish that elevate it above the fried rice dishes which just have tiny little prawns in them. It's a different sort of fried rice to Chinese fried rice with tomato, and Chinese broccoli and a well seasoned rice.
Green curry of tofu, snake beans, Asian greens, baby corn adn sweet basil $14
I am a bit of a fiend for sweet basil especially in stir fries and curries and this creamy coconut based curry was heady in the Thai sweet basil with its light licoricey flavour. The flavours permeated the vegetables and the tofu and the beans were especially good-flavoured right through but still with a good crunch to them.
Cuttlefish, snow peas, ginger and shallots $15
The cuttlefish was plentiful and very tender in this simply flavoured stir fry flavoured with ginger and oyster sauce.
Lychee and coconut ice cream and palm sugar salt caramel ice cream $7
I go to feed the meter for the car while Laura chooses the dessert. True to form, most of the desserts are no longer available and so we have a choice of two ice creams. Not surprisingly as Muum Maam is in fact owned by the company that owns Omerta, A Tavola and Gelato Messina the ice cream company. The flavours are a divine lychee and coconut with just enough of each flavour to satisfy and still be refreshing. The one on the right is the palm sugar salted caramel with unexpected shards and chunks of soft white chocolate.
And there's plenty enough to take away too! Fittingly, we look up at the sign which explains the name Muum Maam. It is said to mean to eat indulgently, gluttonously, devouringly and voraciously. Check,check and check!
So tell me Dear Reader, which is your favourite Asian cuisine and why? And do you have a favourite place or order for lunch?
Shop 1/50 Holt St, Surry Hills, NSW 2010
Tukshop open for lunch Mon-Fri (11.30am-3pm)
Muum Maam - open for dinner Mon-Sat (6pm-10.30pm)
Tel: +61 (02) 9318 0881