3 April 2012

Mexicana madness at Mamasita, Melbourne


Jeremy and I love La Cholita in Perth. Fresh Mexican is definitely what's in at the moment and so it's no wonder that when we decided on going on holiday to Melbourne, Mamasita was one of the first places we ate at. This is the place that La Cholita gets compared to the most, with bloggers often saying that Mamasita reigns victorious.

So we had to try it out for ourselves.


The decor is simple; the staff friendly. It's not as dark and suitably grimey as Perth's offering; but rather keeps things plain with natural light filtering in. There's limited seating so we take a perch at the bar and let the man behind it guide us on our way through the menu.

On his recommendation we go for the ceviche de yucatan ($18). It's a market fish ceviche (kingfish on this occasion) with green tomto, chilli, mint, lime and coconut milk. It's served with a nice accompaniment of crispy tortilla chips to scoop up the chilled mixture inside.

The ceviche is rich and decadent; the fish chopped fine but still fleshy to taste. There's a nice kick of citrus juice combined with the coconut milk. I'm really enjoying it but as we get to about the halfway stage we realise we probably should have ordered the smaller version since it gets a bit repetitive in flavour by the end.

Kingfish ceviche

From the primeros list we've gone for the totopos (tortilla chips) con guacamole ($8). The guacamole is smooth and creamy; served plain with just a small sprinkling of salt. While it does taste nice, it's a far cry from the dish of the same name at La Cholita which is packed full of lime and tomatoes.

We've also chosen the elotes callejeros ($4.90 each) which is Mexican 'street style' chargrilled corn. It has queso, chipotle mayonnaise and lime.

The corn is grilled lightly without much char to it really, but it has a lovely smokey taste to it that is enhanced by the grated strips of queso cheese that melts on top like it belonged there all along. With a squeeze of lime over the top it becomes fresh and heedy to inhale. Even better with a little pouring of habanero sauce over the top.

Mexican street corn and tortilla chips with guacamole

Because I absolutely adore the crab meat tostadas at La Cholita, we decide to try them here too for comparison. The de cangrejo ($16) come with a nice little salsa of avocado and cucumber with a sprinkling of microherbs and chilli on top. The tortilla shells have a nice crunch to them, but the crab tastes a bit too soft for my liking and overpowered by the other flavours on the dish. It's nice, but not quite what we had been expecting. I do like the tamarind mayonnaise though as it offers something really different to your standard flavour range.

We finish off our light lunch with the de Carnitas tostaditas ($14). Slow braised pork shoulder, encurtidos, pickled jalapeno and chicharron. It's juicy and flavoursome; carefully constructed for us to devour. It's a nice way to finish off eating here. A bit of sweet and savoury all at the same time.

Our Mamasita experience was something we're definitely glad we tried. It was a combination of dishes and ingredients that paid homage to the Mexican roots it represents. While we are bucking against the majority and saying we prefer La Cholita, I can definitely see the charm of Mamasita. The staff are efficient, the food exciting. It's new wave Mexican and I think it's here to stay.



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