Mama’s Buoi is a lovely little Vietnamese restaurant that easily fits into the beautiful suburb of Surry Hills with its unique exterior and interior. For me, it’s a fresh addition to the Sydney food-scene because I find Vietnamese restaurants that put such a strong focus on aesthetics, very rare. Not saying that all Vietnamese restaurants look shabby (well, some do), their appearance was never something I noticed because I was just in it for the pho. Nothing else mattered, I don’t care if the restaurant doesn’t look pretty or whatever, if you serve food good enough to compensate it, that’s all I need. But hey, who doesn’t love a place that serves great food and looks good at the same time?
So for sure, Mama’s Buoi ticked off the ‘good looks’ box, they just needed to tick off the ‘good food’ box.
No matter what Vietnamese restaurant you are, I will make sure there is a bowl of pho on my table. But, since there was only the two of us, we opted for the smaller one so we could try different stuff on the menu.
What Mama Buoi’s beef pho lacks when you compare it to strong contenders in Western Sydney is the rich and (highly) addictive flavour of the broth that seeps into the noodles themselves. I usually just eat my beef pho as it is, without adding anything (except a copious amount of bean sprouts and basil) because the flavour is simply satisfactory. However, even with the added hoisin sauce and fresh chili, the pho broth flavour was muted and did not translate to the noodles well. The beef was of great quality, though. A little disappointed because it was definitely one of the prettiest bowls of pho I have ever seen.
Ordering the small bowl of hpo allowed my friend and I to order two more dishes – one of which was the rice paper rolls. I was especially excited the Roast Pork and Crackling one because PORK CRACKLING!! I have read great things about this from blogs but no matter how hard I try, I had to disagree. Maybe it was just a bad day, but there was absolutely no crispiness in mine and it ended up being very hard to chew and swallow. The BBQ Chicken on the other hand, was better but it tasted like any average rice paper roll I’d get in a Vietnamese restaurant.
And here came our last dish – fried chicken ribs with five spice! Probably the highlight of the meal – the right amount of crunch and great, authentic, Asian flavour. However,I do recommend eating it before it gets soggy at the bottom from the sauce. After two small disappointments, I’m glad Mama’s Buoi jumped back on this one – I really did want to like this place.
CONCLUSION: From this experience, I couldn’t help but compare Mama’s Buoi to the Vietnamese restaurants I used to frequent as a child in Western suburbs such as Cabramatta and Flemington. But then I realise, those restaurants and Mama’s Buoi serve rather different aims – Mama’s Buoi definitely gives a better dining experience with lovely service, seating and overall atmosphere, something that is lacking in the restaurants I mentioned before. While I was a little disappointed on the flavours of this place, I realise it is also catered to a different audience that looks to provide a relaxing and home-cooked feeling. Keep in mind that I make this judgement from trying three different dishes on a very diverse menu; I am sure I would look different if I had tried more.
Address: 116 Devonshire St Surry Hills, NSW 2010