Friday, May 06, 2005

Working for you: restaurant review

I could go on a rant about any number of things (I'm a little grumpy because my back hurts--I really need a massage. Anyone know of a good--preferably cheap--massage therapist around here?) but instead I think I'll try to stay cheerful and do a restaurant review instead. Only because today at work a bunch of us were thinking about food all morning, and everyone wanted to go have an actual "sit-down" meal somewhere. I'd eaten spinach pie from home all week, and I was ready for something different. I was afraid people would want to go somewhere awful like Big Ed's or Tippy's, the Mexican place that actually calls its chili sauce "gravy." But we ended up going to a place that (mostly) pleased me: Mama Fu's (its at "The Lassiter," which used to be North Hills Mall and has one of the most pretentious names for a shopping center I've ever heard). I'd never heard of Mama Fu's, but it's yet another chain, er, I mean "concept," from the same company that runs Moe's Southwest Grill (probably my favorite chain restaurant).

Mama Fu's is pan-Asian semi-fast food--you go in and order from the counter, but then you sit down and the food is brought to you. I can't say exactly what's on the menu, because I stopped reading as soon as I saw the "Noodle Bowl" section: it was my turn! Places where you order at a counter expect to you be ready to spit out what you want as soon as it's your turn ... even if you just walked in and you've never been there before and you have no idea what you want. I hate that ... it causes too much anxiety for me. Fortunately, a noodle bowl was exactly what I wanted. At Mama Fu's, you can order your noodle dishes with your choice of meat or tofu, so I picked the Vietnamese crunchy noodles with tofu. My total with tax came to $7.01, which seems to be a resonable price for lunch these days, but it's only because I drank water--add a couple of bucks for a soda, more if you want beer or wine.

The dish was quite tasty, but overly salty. The noodles were pleasingly crunchy and the tofu was heavenly: satisfyingly meaty little strips in a barbecue-esqe sauce. The sauce itself was the weak link. It tasted like it was poured out of a jar, was probably sweetened with hugh-fructose corn syrup and was the source of the over-saltiness. There was no subtlety about it, and subtle, delicate flavors are the main reason I like Vietnamese food.

I'll probably end up back at Mama Fu's again someday, but I don't think I'll go out of my way to get there, and when I do I'll order something different.

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