Level 1, 11 Collins St
*EDIT: READ ABOUT MY MOST RECENT VISIT HERE*
Now, it’s been a while since I’ve eaten at Mamasita (hence the lack of pictures), but I can still remember every bit of this memorable meal. We arrived early on a rainy Friday afternoon (and when I say early, I mean REALLY early, at just before 5pm!), and we almost walked right past the place, because the signage was teeny tiny. Like, REALLY teeny tiny. We went up a narrow staircase to emerge in a lofty and airy space, and we were quickly directed to a couple of tall stools facing the window, and a couple of menus were placed in front of us.
From all the previous reading I’ve done on Mamasita, I knew that I couldn’t go past the Elotes callejeros – ‘Street Style’ chargrilled corn with queso, chipotle mayonnaise and lime ($4.40 each). We also ordered a side of Totopos con salsa – Tortilla Chips with salsa ($5, or $7 with guacamole, and $8 with both). The food came out with the speed of which you find in a Chinese restaurant. The tortilla chips were crisp and natural tasting, with none of that orange cheese powder you find on top of packet corn chips, and the salsa was fresh and slightly spicy, and was great scooped up with the irregularly shaped tortilla chips – definitely much better than your 2 for $5 Doritos and salsa combos at Safeway! And then there was the corn. Oh my god, the corn. I have to say it was probably the most delicious corn on the cob I have ever tasted. A half-cob on a skewer, chargrilled to a juicy smokiness, rolled in creamy queso and chipotle mayo, topped with paprika powder and a few drops of lime juice for extra zing. I was in heaven from the first sweet, smoky, creamy mouthful. Unfortunately my dining partner didn’t like the corn as much as me, not being a fan of queso (as well as having self-proclaimed that he has the tastebuds of a 5 year old)… so I got to finish of half his serve as well!
After perusing the menu a little more, we ordered a few more things to share. Whilst waiting for the food to come out, I decided that it would be fun to try out the jalapeno sauces. There were two little bottles sitting on each table, one filled with a red sauce, and one filled with a harmless looking green sauce – oh how wrong I was! The tiny spot of sauce I put on my tortilla chip quickly spread its heat over my mouth, leaving me desperate for a glass of milk to get rid of the buuuuurn. Needless to say I didn’t try the red sauce after that.
The next dish to come out was the Tostaditas de Pollo – 2.5 inch fried tortilla with chargrilled chicken, avocado, queso fresco, and chipotle mayonnaise ($14 for 4). Now after the amazing corn I had earlier, I was expecting nothing short of mind-blowing, and this didn’t disappoint. The chicken was deliciously fall-apart tender and smoky, and the avocado and mayo added moisture and flavour. The small mouthful packed a huge punch of flavour, which each of the components coming through clearly and complementing each other, to make what was possibly the most perfect mouthful of food I’ve had in a long time. Our tacos arrived almost as soon as we finished the tostaditas. We ordered 2 tacos, the Al Pastor – Braised Pork with Pineapple, Coriander, and White Onion ($5 each, or $14 for 3), and the de Res y Chorizo – Braised Beef and Chorizo with Coriander and Onion ($5 each, or $14 for 3). I think it was a bit unfair having this right after the tostaditas. These were reasonably good, with distinct and fresh flavours encased in a soft tortilla, but they failed to excite. I think I was a little more excited about the dish of complementary pickles that came with them, which added a much-needed kick to the tacos.
By that stage we were fairly full, but alas, there is always room for dessert! At the recommendation of the waitress (who had been incredibly helpful and attentive the whole night), we ordered the Platano Frito – Fried banana with Tamarind Ice cream and Lechera ($9) I was initially a bit hesitant about ordering this dish, as the words ‘fried banana’ brings to mind stodgy, shapeless banana fritters encased in a thick gluggy batter, the kind offered at Chinese restaurants. How wrong I was! The dish came out beautifully presented in a shallow ceramic dish, pieces of golden fried bananas surrounding a scoop of ice cream with banana chips sticking out the top, drizzled with thin lines of white condensed milk. The exterior of the banana was fried to almost a sweet toffee-like consistency, and crunching through that revealed soft creamy banana, which paired brilliantly with the slightly acidic tamarind ice cream, which cut through the richness, leaving you with enough room for just ‘one more bite’.
We left the restaurant at just before 6, and the queue already extended all the way down the staircase and into the cold rainy night. And for food this good? I don’t blame them.
Rating: 17/20 – points subtracted for the average-ness of the tacos