MDJ Says: Zee & I love to eat. It’s one of the things that bonds us as a couple, and one of the most meaningful ways we celebrate the time and memories we’ve made together. Now, we’re no gourmands by any stretch of the imagination. Heck, KFC is our idea of a happy meal, and would much rather chow down on barbecue, puso, and ice-cold Coca-Cola at a roadside Cebuano eatery like Larsian than find ourselves at a black-tie 7-course dinner at the Manila Peninsula. But once in a while, we do like to step out for a special meal, and one of the places we keep coming back to is Mamou, a delightfully homey little pocket of happiness that’s played host to more celebratory meals than we can remember.
Mamou calls itself nothing more than a “home kitchen,” manned not by classically-trained chefs but by people who just love to eat. We beg to differ. For our crazy, nutty little family – our little Sith Puppy poodle Vader included – Mamou means happiness, Mamou means good times, Mamou means family.
Zee: I love food. I love eating good food. Even before I met MDJ, I would eat alone in a good restaurant savoring a good meal, but most especially good meat. This is how my love affair with Mamou started, and when I first brought MDJ here, is probably one of the reasons he fell in love with me.
We celebrate there a lot since then. I love how Mamou always makes us feel welcome and at home. Reservations when we call look like this :
Over Mother’s Day, they gave all moms gorgeous red velvet cupcakes to enjoy. It certainly made my day a wee bit more special.
There are little things they do that we love, and they address every pet peeve MDJ and I have when we go out for dinner, like waiters who get the order all wrong because they don’t write it down, and a buzzer under the table to make sure the staff don’t forget you exist. The latter happens a lot when you eat at the outdoor area of a restaurant, actually. You can’t imagine how many times it has happened to us.
I just find these little things wonderful. Plus, the Assumption Red Plaid Card gets you a free slice of Key Lime Pie!
MDJ: But one of the things we love best about Mamou is how it’s delightfully unpretentious.
Here’s the thing. I am absolutely Filipino in the way I eat steak – meaning I am terrified by all these hoity-toity gourmet steak places that frown on anybody eating their steak with anything other than a pinch of salt and a baked potato. I feel discriminated against in places like those, you know what I mean? I like my steak with rice, and absolutely drowning in what is perhaps the most glorious liquid known to man (second only to Maria Sharapova’s lip sweat), Knorr Liquid Seasoning. Mamou serves the kind of steak that throws all these pretensions by the wayside, invites you to kick off your Prada loafers, and just dig in.
Mamou’s steaks are legendary, and have been celebrated by such bodies as The Miele Guide and the Philippine Tatler as being the absolute best in the country. A man deserves his meat, and if he’s defined by the quality of meat he enjoys, then by Odin’s beard, when we eat steak at Mamou, I am Chris Hemsworth raised to the power of Fabio.
Our favorite is their Angus Ribeye USDA Prime Grade Steak – it’s absolutely flavorful and smoky and perfectly charred yet tear-jerkingly juicy, and quite possibly the manliest steak I’ve ever eaten.
Mamou serves their steak on a hot plate George Foreman Grill style, meaning it’s tilted on one end so the drippings and juices and bits of charred fat form a sinfully indulgent pool on one end that you can either ignore (how positively prissy and boring) or spoon over your slice of grilled meat (YOU, SIR, ARE A BEAST!). You can literally feel both the devil and God hovering over your shoulders as you eat one of Mamou’s steaks, but at least you know you’ll die happy. And I know that table manner Nazis blow a gasket when they see Filipinos using a spoon to hack up a steak, but a Mamou steak just calls out for that kind of behavior – it’s that tender.
But it’s Mamou’s sidings that blow my mind.
I love how rice is not just offered as an embarrassed afterthought the way some other steak restaurants do – with their Steak Rice option, it’s glorified, celebrated, and highlighted in a way that makes me sob gently to myself with joy in the shower every time I think of it. You have the choice of either white or red rice sautéed in steak drippings, with bits of charred steak left in. You know how Gardenia Bread likes to advertise itself as “So good, you can eat it on its own”? This rice is good enough to be its own entree, and deserves the highest compliment ever from me: It does not need Knorr Liquid Seasoning to taste any better.
I do with one serving were little bit bigger though, but I’m a dude, and therefore genetically pre-disposed to carbo-loading abuse.
Zee: Speaking of carbs, another Mamou staple we love is Lorenzo’s Truffle Cream Pasta.
I’ve always thought that truffle anything would be too overwhelming. Worst yet, I am not a fan of pasta. But this is just something I can’t get enough of. In fact, this is the only pasta I actually enjoy. It’s simple but flavorful and leaves you wanting more. My little girl loves this and can have an entire order all by herself, which drives MDJ nuts. She craves for this in the middle of the week, and says she wishes she lived at Serendra so that she can have this everyday.
MDJ: She and I both. You know a restaurant’s food is good if an 8-year old girl raised on chicken nuggets and Purefoods hotdogs craves for it. But I think the one among us who loves Mamou best is Vader.
Zee: Oh yes, our little puppy! He adores Mamou as well. He loves the little treats I “accidentally” drop, like steak and his favorite lamb chop bones. They treat him like the little person he thinks he is, offer him water, and automatically ask if we would like the bones wrapped up for him. At Mamou, he’s not a pet but a guest, and a part of the family. They even gave him a birthday cupcake on his 7th month birthday this week! Don’t you just love it?
MDJ: I’ll always be the low-brow dude of hoi polloi tastes who insists that a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder is a gazillion times better than a Lusso foie gras burger, or that Shakey’s Tropical Bacon thin crust pizza will never be matched by L’Opera’s finest, but by gosh, I think Mamou will always be my absolute favorite place to go to for a celebratory meal. It’s simple, unpretentious, thoroughly magnificent food, and I swear to God that if Noah had had to bring just two food items onto the Ark, Mamou’s steak and truffle pasta would have been on the top of his list.
Zee: Mamou is more than just a restaurant for us. It’s a place where we feel comfortable and feel at home. The staff are warm and friendly and never seem to forget little details. Good food, warmth, and comfort are the perfect ingredients for family nights or, as we call it at our house, Ohana nights – because Ohana means family, and that nobody gets left behind or forgotten.
Mamou nights mean family nights.
Mamou: A Home Kitchen is located at Serendra in Taguig, and at the Rockwell Power Plant Mall in Makati. You can call them at (02) 856 3569 for reservations at Serendra, or at (02) 822 6218 for reservations at Rockwell.
Follow them on Twitter (@mymamou) if you’d like to leave a word – they’re super friendly and responsive, and will gladly listen to any feedback you may have. Mamou means happiness, Mamou means good times, Mamou means family!