Restaurant review: Mamsy’s – Hyde Park
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Best For: Mamsy’s is probably best for a bargain meal with friends (although it’s a small place but they can accommodate big groups and you can book the whole place at no extra cost).
Best Dish: Dishes are all available with beef/chicken/tofu/veg/prawns but the best mild dish is the creamy and coconutty Panang curry. For those who like an extra kick, the Kow Pad Kee Mow is a chillified fried rice dish.
Mamsy’s is a snug, vibrant and chilled restaurant on the edge of the park, which serves up authentic Thai nommyness. Even better, it has a nice little story behind it: the owner, Mamsy, came up with the idea of a studenty, cheap-as-chips restaurant whilst travelling in Mexico. He had zilch previous experience in the restaurant industry but fancied himself a (big) challenge. Despite most people warning him that this was a terrible idea he went ahead with the project with limited funds and knowledge.
Fortunately he met helpful people along the way without whom the business would quite possibly have gone tits up, to put it lightly. He took over the lease of the restaurant (formerly ‘Moorish’) last year, gutted it with the help of a few friends, got advice from the local industry’s gurus and bravely opened shop.
He was lucky to meet a local musician who put him in touch with a graffiti artist (which is how they got the jazzy shutters). This sparked the arts café concept that Mamsy’s has got going on: the walls are crammed with a mind-boggling array of cheerful artwork by local people (which they exhibit free of charge), giving the restaurant a warm and fuzzy feeling. Mamsy was pretty keen to avoid the generic Thai restaurant vibe (thankfully you won’t find any twangy omm music and/or elephants in here) AND he even hosts acoustic music nights as well as dub’n’grub nights with local musicians.
Mamsy trawled the oriental supermarkets in the area searching for a Thai chef – fortunately his long search paid off when he found Buu. He was adamant that Buu should cook as she would back at home in Thailand and she absolutely sticks to this.
There’s a perfect-sized, student-budget-friendly, a-la-carte menu featuring old favourites (prawn toasts, chicken satay, Pad Thai, Tom Yam) as well as lesser-known dishes (Pad Kee Mow, Himmaparn – nope, I didn’t have a clue either). However, the lovely Mamsy is on hand and very willing to give recommendations to help you pick something that suits your taste buds and spice tolerance!
When I went, I was on a girl date with two friends, Issy and Anna, and as a starter we shared the vegetable spring rolls, which were totally delish and were crunchy and fresh. I had the Massaman curry as my main course, which was on the right side of spicy and creamy. Anna had the rather exotic sounding Kow Pad Kee Mow which she drenched in chilli sauce because she’s hardcore. Issy, on the other hand, went for the mildest dish going which was the Panang curry and she just about handled (bearing in mind she considers black pepper to be ‘too spicy’). Food was nicely presented, cooked to order and fantastic value at no more than £6 a dish including rice.
We were easily tempted by Mamsy’s dessert offerings, Nanaimo bars, which although not exactly Thai (Canadian, in fact), were ruddy delish. Made by a local Namaimo bar extraordinaire, these scrumptious, triple-layered (biscuity, custardy and chocolatey) delights were the perfect way to finish off our evening.
I had a good chat with Mamsy after we’d finished stuffing ourselves and was really encouraged by his enthusiasm and efforts to make the business work. His vision? To create something along the lines ‘a barber shop atmosphere where customers can come and have a quick tasty meal, a bit of banter, before leaving satisfied and with a bit of change in their pockets’ – and I’m pretty convinced he achieves exactly that.