PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
It's a Sunday night, but Mamasan is buzzing and it's easy to see why. This Bondi favourite is reeling in local crowds with its modern Asian tapas menu and a stellar drinks list featuring Ashai and Sapporo on tap. Sprawled over two shop fronts, Mamasan is surprisingly roomy, with space for up to 90 people. There are also secret nooks that have been well conceived for intimate group dining. The moody lighting adds to the comfortable ambience, while quirky design features, such as lucky cats, Astro Boy characters, toy soldiers and Godzilla figurines give the restaurant its charm.
There are only three of us dining, but everything on the menu sounds so appealing that we order enough for five. Despite the fact that the restaurant is busy, the service is friendly and efficient (a surprise for Bondi). Each dish is presented as a tapas-style meal, with enough for four people in each serving. Duck pancakes are underwhelming, but the prawn sesame rolls are deliciously crunchy and the soft shell crab is lightly-battered and tender, with the yuzu aioli and Nepalese spicy tomato ‘Achar' sauce providing additional bite. In a rushed decision, we order the pork sliders off the special menu (one each at $14 a pop), without really knowing what to expect. It was as if a Momfoku-like pork bun met a Rockpool burger and had a baby. It's a messy dish, but memorable. Let's hope it becomes more than just a special. It's at this point we should have stopped (did I mentioned we also demolished one-bite-beef and BBQ chicken wings?) but us greedy Eastern Suburb folk always want more. We converse with the group at the table next to us and they recommend the ‘fish on fire'. The dish involves miso-marinated Salmon that has been cooked between cedar wood papers and then smoked. The final product arrives at the diners' table with the cedar embers still glowing and served with a side of marmalade, which is an unusual but brilliant combination of flavours. Mamasan can cater for groups from 20, up to 90 people. There is live jazz every Sunday arvo (1.30pm-4.30pm).