Tucked into the old Post Alley adjacent to the Myer and H & M complex, Mama’s Buoi makes for a refuge from the buzzing shopping hub of Burke Street Mall and offers the traditional flavours of Vietnam with a modern twist right here in heart of Melbourne.
Upon being greeted by Nam, the founder and co-owner, I settled into my spot in the open, alley-style eatery reminiscent of back street food courts commonly found in Vietnam and Thailand – only with western standards and an Aussie accent. But once it comes to the menu selection, it became quickly apparent that Mama’s Buoi is nothing like your usual Aussie-Asian restaurant or Thai street food vendor – by far.
Not being able to go past the house special, the DIY Duck Pancakes served with refreshing cucumber and pineapple, roasted duck, bean sprouts and cabbage with spicy hoi sin sauce, I was off to a good start. It took only a couple of goes to manage the rolling up of the diverse flavours in the freshly flipped pancakes to sample the traditional dish. I quickly learned, it is much more suited as a shared entre than a solo one, however, while I perhaps over-indulged, I enjoyed every bite.
Next was one of the dishes of the house and a special of Aunty Thim, who as a long time highly respected culinary artists in the family became the very inspiration that led to the opening of Mama’s Buoi in late 2014 – the caramelized pork belly and braised egg hot pot. A dish with much family history as Nam Nguy recalls literally growing up on it here in Australia, so it had not only to feature on the menu but likewise find its place among my dinner selection. Steaming with spices, the subtle sweetness was met with smoky flavours and a distinct edge that let me appreciate the well iced drinks served with the dish.
Imagine, a soupy broth rich in flavours with ample pork that immediately melted on your tongue add a cocktail of ginger, chili, braised egg and coriander to seduce the taste buds. Yummm…
Not that this was insufficient for my first Mama’s Buoi dining experience (definitely not the last either), but it was shear impossible to leave without a taste of their home-made avocado and star aniseed icecream, which mind you sealed the excellent dining experience in this rustic-funky and colourfully decorated alleyway eatery a plenty.
Mama’s Buoi is open 7 days per week for their wide range of salads, meals and lunch specials (it does get busy here during the week-day rush hour) and for a much more relaxed dining experience, such as mine, with the excellent selection of cocktails and wines to accompany their family recipes and modern takes on traditional Vietnamese dishes. With a backdrop of colourful paneling, a welcoming bar and super friendly staff, Mama’s Buoi has quickly earned it’s spot as a true insider dining tip and one you ought to try for yourself next time you feel puckish in the bohemian city.
Mama’s Buoi, Old Post Alley, Melbourne CBD
After the success of the two Sydney locations (Surrey Hills & Crows Nest), the response to the fab little new eatery has been so strong that Mama’s Buoi is set to open doors also in Hawthorn pretty soon!
Erik is a passionate freelance food and travel review writer. He has been widely published in magazines and online – internationally. He is available for reviews, content writing and feature articles for tourism/travel and related genre. Visit his webiste www.erikbigalk.com.au.