Mamamon - the real Thai culinary journey in Vienna

Posted by in GOURMET .

So Mamamon is not the secret of town anymore - at least since Severin Corti (the restaurant critic in Austria) had dedicated a whole page on praising about this tiny gem in the 8th district in Vienna, serving the best and yes my favorite Thai dishes.

But see, this is what makes #TM different from other food reviewers and food critics, we give you the real inside scoop - we sat down with Piano, the owner of Mamamon and found out very cute details about the establishment of this restaurant idea and the whole work behind it - making dreams become reality! She even gave us a little info on what menu to expect for the summer, what her favorite dishes are and what other future projects are in the making of … So sit down, relax and join us through a culinary trip from the north and the south of Thailand and of course the capital city, Bangkok.

#TM: Of course it’s important to know how Mamamon started. Was it the love of food (#TM to audience: that’s why I would open up my own little restaurant)? Do you come from a restaurant background - i.e. parents, studying etc.?

Piano: My dream was to always have my own place. I worked at a bar when I moved to Vienna, and this is where I was exposed to the restaurant/bar scene and gained my work-experience. It wasn’t easy to find a job while working on my music - I’ve been a singer since the age of 5 (#TM to audience: See, I bet y’all didn’t know that !?!). One day I was riding my bike along Donaukanal and saw those Thai-food-carts abandoned outside Adria (#TM to audience: You might have seen them everywhere in Bangkok or Kao San Road). I approached the manager, she said she will put me in contact with the owner and I should write down some ideas. So, right there, on a tissue paper I wrote down the menu and concept - everything was planned right at that second and this is how the whole street-food concept started.

#TM: Your menu, why this combination?

Piano: First season at Adria I refused to do Pad Thai, curry with rice and other commercial Thai dishes. I didn’t want to be the typical Thai food place. I started with papaya-salad, marinated fish and meat skewers, not very complicated and it was very reasonable. In the second season I realized that I needed to bring something new into the menu - making (almost) only papaya-salad wasn’t the future, the prep of papaya-salad is hard work plus it’s an expensive product. So I started doing what the customers have been requesting for a while, Pad Thai and curry with rice - still trying to stick to my street-food concept. For five years of doing Adria I craved for the stuffed what I really wanted. When I go out in Vienna to a Thai restaurant, I really find it hard to please myself with the Thai menus out there. And now, since I have my own Mamamon in Albertgasse, I want to serve food that me and my husband miss and love eating - so it’s a combination of our favorites.

#TM: Tell us the cute story about how you found this location on Albertgasse.

Piano: (#TM: Piano being total euphoric to tell me this story - and trust me it’s very cute)
For five years We were searching for an all-year-round location, so we kept looking at various places - mainly my husband did (#TM: she totally praised her husband, as he is a big supporter of her projects).  When I moved in to the 8th district, I walked by this place every time and I was literally “bugging” him and asking him when he would decide to pass on his restaurant - for two years. Eventually I got an offer from him, and I was super happy and this was exactly what I expected it to be. It was small, charming, calm, I can over-look at things, play with the menu, there are no limits and rules. So yeah, it took me five years (#TM: ending the sentence with a huge smile in her face).



#TM: What’s the concept of your restaurant?

Piano: The food we miss eating from home, myself, my husband, my cook, my staff, my friends & family here - remembering this specific dish, the way we eat it, the way we want people to eat it with no substitution, no short-cuts but the real works. Keeping it original and authentic!

#TM: Your plates, condiments tray - they look very familiar to me - I remember seeing them in Thailand, especially at street-food spots.

Piano: I love this style and even if I had a place in Thailand I would do the same. The colors, the casualness and it worked out … My friends and family are always smuggling stuff for me (*laughing).



#TM: You have a lot of northern Thai food. What’s so different when it comes to food, from the north compared to the south or other regions of Thailand?

Can you go into depths about the fermented sausages “Isaan Sausage” (#TM: Piano explaining us that Isaan is an area in the north-east, so the sausages are called by its origin).

Piano: The sausage culture comes from the Chinese. This special fermented sausage comes from the north-east part of Thailand which is connecting with China and Laos. The sausage is stuffed with rice and ground-pork. You rest them in room temperature for one day so the rice turns the pork sour and also to get that tangy note. We keep it in a dehydrator, which is controlling the temperature and this way you also get steady results. It goes well with spicy food, it compliments the other dishes. It is a dish from the working class people. This was the only way to preserve the food, as most of them couldn’t afford refrigerators, nor had electricity back then.


Top: Veggies with a spicy dipping sauce and sticky rice. Left: Classic papaya-salad. Right: Isaan Sausages
Top: Veggies with a spicy dipping sauce and sticky rice. Left: Classic Papaya-Salad. Right: Isaan Sausages


#TM: You serve quite a few varieties of papaya-salads, tell us all about them.

Piano: In Thailand it’s common to have many varieties. My favorite is the blue-swimmer crab version. There is also the version with the Peruvian corn, which has a great texture or crispy pork belly with cucumber - and I can go along for ever … We at Mamamon serve the salted egg version, which is a more creamy flavor; Crab - but not blue swimmer crab (#TM: Piano explaining that she’d rather serve the blue swimmer crab version if she lived along the coast somewhere, as it needs to be fresh). And then there is the dry shrimps version - the classic version which everyone orders.

#TM: Why do your chicken wings taste so much better than anywhere else?

Piano: The secret is to use good ingredients, we use the classic Thai fresh herbs and a bit of curry paste. We put more effort and time, marinate the meat and the crispiness comes from the rice flour. (#TM advice: Guys, it’s freaking GLUTEN FREE-tasting-better-than-KFC-fried chicken wings !!!).



#TM: The chicken noodle curry soup is just freaking awesome, what’s up with that?

Piano: Khaoi Soi is again another northern dish with fresh cut noodles in a special curry. This dish is influenced by the Chinese Muslim that moved to Chiang Mai. Their version was without the coconut milk, the Thai took it over and added the extra coconut milk. It’s very hearty, great for the winter. This is my husband’s favorite dish. We missed eating this dish. Eventually we thought of doing a noodle dish of the week but once we had Khaoi Soi on the menu we couldn’t get enough of it.

#TM: Laab, what’s the story about laab and especially your Duck-Laab. Is Duck-Laab common in Thailand?

Piano: Duck-Laab is a newer vogue of laab, the classics are chicken, pork or liver laab. It also comes from the Isaan region. It is very common in road-side restaurants or in bars, accompanied with alcoholic drinks. Duck-Laab has never been done in Austria. The texture of roasted, powdered rice and spices is the key to a tasty laab - it is so much prep work and people underestimate the time you invest to cook Thai food.

#TM: Tell us quickly about your appetizer plate:

Piano: Basically, if you order a couple of appetizers, I will put it together in a plate - usually the classic combination is sticky rice with papaya-salad and them some protein like skewers, sausages or chicken wings - that’s how we would order it.



#TM: My favorite sweets, the cookies - “Dok Jok”, it’s seasonal, I know - only available when Mama Mon is around. We have the same cookies - “Kokis” in Sri Lanka, mainly served for occasions like Sri Lankan New Year because they are not so easy to prepare.

Piano: Yes, they are hard work, it is a batter of mixed wheat and rice flour, coconut milk with black and white sesame and then fried in oil. (#TM: Guys, I kid you not, you have to try them).


Top: Thai Ice-Tea. Right: Cookies
Top: Thai Ice-Tea. Right: Cookies


#TM: Chef’s recommendation?

Piano: Pickles, eat our pickles, there is so much love put into the prep of our pickles, it’s very labor intense but it’s so worth it. Our pickles come in a mixture of kiwi, granny smith apple, pear, fennel, artichoke, brussels-sprout …you snack on pickles or salted tamarind while you drink your rum or tequila.

#TM: Your mom plays a big role in this project, please tell us more.

Piano: When I got the place at Adria I called my mom in Thailand, she came right away, we set up the menu, we did a lot of test-cooking. I even made a film with her cooking (click here to see Mama Mon cook). I was a singer before and she was always with me, she always supported me with whatever I wanted to do, she was my backbone. It hasn’t been easy with the whole restaurant business. I told her I will call it “Mamamon” (explaining us, that “Mama” meaning what we all understand when we hear that word and “Mon” being her mom’s name). She warned me to use a good picture, which for some reason failed. The photo was super wrinkly and it wasn’t her favorite but when she got the attention from the customers, she was like “OK, fine, keep it”.

#TM: Your future plans?

Piano: Now, that I have my eatery, I’d like to have my “drinkery”. I want to serve great cocktails with bar food. Funny cocktails, served in funny containers that I am smuggling again through my friends who are visiting me next week (*giggling). They are always my victims, carrying funny things with them. (#TM: We were joking around, trying to figure out a name for her new “drinkery” and had silly ideas i.e. Cocktails with Piano (I guess you all know the new show “Kocktails with Kloe") - Piano said “maybe ‘Pocktails with Piano’ - let’s make it sound like a title of a rap song” - and we went on with some other crazy names …).

Guys, I listed my favorite dishes from Mamamon, Piano gave us a very detailed info about them and now it’s your chance to go check them out at Mamamon in Albertgasse, 1080 Wien. Go to their FB Page for opening hours and reservation possibilities. Hurry up and trust me, in this case you gotta believe the hype!

SUMMER NEWS at Mamamon:
“Fruit-salad the way we do papaya salad.”
“Two Noodle soup versions: Dry version is usually a warm noodle salad where you order a watery soup to slurp on the side if it gets too dry. Regular noodle soup, we call it the water version.”
“Ice-Coffee with lots of crushed ice.” (#TM: I begged her to also do a condensed milk version, which is also very common in Thailand, keeping my fingers crossed. And also please make sure to try her yummy Thai Ice-Tea and Ginger Honey-Tea).

Make sure to tell us in the comments below why you think Mamamon is the most-freaking-awesome Thai place in Vienna - see, we from #TM made sure that you get the real background story. Told you that we are different wink And what makes #TM so super-special when we do our food features? We give you a personal recipe from the chef.

Papaya Salad à la Piano:

Raw green papaya. Shred it to strips. Thick enough that it won't get socks too easily when mixing with dressing.
1 Carrot -shredded. For extra color if prefer.

Chili Pepper as many as you think you can handle.
Half of a garlic clove
1 lime cut into wedges
3 tables spoons of Fish Sauce
1 table spoons of tamarind concentrate
1 and a half table spoon of palm sugar paste or any sugar. But not brown sugar.
3 cherry tomatoes
3 long green beans

Handful of house roasted peanuts - it makes the difference trust me.
Dried Shrimps if prefer.

It's good if you own a Thai clay mortar with a wooden pestle especially used for this dish. But if not, get a mixing bowl with any wooden pestle you can find.

Crush the garlic and chili pepper together in the mixing bowl. Squeeze lime wedges into the mix along with palm sugar or sugar, tamarind paste and fish sauce . Mix everything together so it becomes saucy. Add shredded papaya and carrot. Add dried shrimp, beans and at last halved tomatoes. Adjust the taste to your liking. Done.

There are so many variations of this dish with the same usage of dressing ingredients and the same cooking method. Just replace raw papaya with fruits or vegetables you like. Even some juicy pineapple works very good with this dish.
Once you master it. It only takes you 15 minutes to prep and make this dish.



Photos by Irina Peicu for TAG MARKET. All images © 2014-2016 TAG MARKET. All rights reserved.