When Will Meyrick opened his first Balinese venture, Sarong, with incredible success, most wondered where he could go from there. The answer is Mama San, a casual eatery that takes the best of Vietnamese and Chinese flavours, and places them in a relaxed dining environment.
Having opened Sarong in 2008, Will poured his extensive experience into his second venture, once again joining his partner-in-culinary-crime, Palm Amatawet to open Mama San in 2011. This expansion allowed them to continue supporting local farmers and encourage growth in nearby communities. Just like Sarong, they aim to support young Balinese people by assisting them with the costs of study while also training and employing them so that they have the right skills to enter the workforce.
As the master of street food, Will always dreamed to open a place that was more than just a restaurant, somewhere with great food and a comfortable environment. Mama San has all this in spades, dishing up a myriad of Asian plates that cover every flavour from the sub-continent, with an emphasis on Vietnamese and Chinese, in a space that feels like just home.
The kitchen, bar and lounge shares its name with a madam of authority in an Asian gentlemen’s club, reflecting the old and new world influence of Mama San’s interiors and cuisine. Will and his team wanted to create a unique space to complement Sarong, rather than be in competition with it. Therefore, a large gudang or warehouse was converted into a two-storey, retro-vintage restaurant and bar.
Within its wooden doors lies a throwback to 1920s Shanghai, when the British influence dominated. Marble mah-jong tables sit near oversized tan leather chesterfields, while Mama San surveys the room from her position above, gazing down on diners devouring each bite.
And devour you will. Start your culinary journey with a range of Asian bites, with flavours spanning from all over. Try the roasted Peking duck with steamed choy sum and red bean sauce, before sampling some of Bali’s best seafood, found in the Thai fish cakes with sweet chilli sauce and pickled cucumber; salt and pepper squid with red nam jihm; and steamed snapper dumplings with chilli and black bean oil.
Continue onto the curries and braises, where Will’s dedication to sourcing fresh organic produce really shines. Order the green curry of sliced beef with bamboo, long bean, apple, eggplant and Thai basil, or the twice-cooked pork ribs with black bean, ginger and soy. Pair it with a refreshing salad, such as the chicken and pomelo salad with lime leaf, white coral mushroom and sesame seed, or turn to the stir fries, where delicacies such as imported Kimberly beef and crispy salted pork await.
No Mama San experience is complete without a tipple or two. Sip on the espresso ginger martini, made with vodka, Kahlua, ginger and espresso, or slurp down the P.I.M.P, a delicious mix of vodka, muddled strawberry, vanilla, lychee, citrus and strawberry foam. There’s also a smorgasbord of classics on offer, including a range of mojitos, daiquiris and margaritas.
The diverse menu is paired with relaxed yet attentive service and a luxurious location, meaning there’s no reason not to visit.