Tar Pau Nation: Quality cooking, cafe prices at Mam Mam

Mam Mam at National University Hospital offers islandwide delivery with a minimum order of $50.
Mam Mam at National University Hospital offers islandwide delivery with a minimum order of $50.ST PHOTO: WONG AH YOKE

SINGAPORE - Despite hearing positive reviews about the food at Mam Mam, the cafe at National University Hospital (NUH), I have not been able to dine there because it is not open to the public.

But it offers islandwide delivery, so everyone can check out the local fare conceptualised by chef Sebastian Ng, who runs his own restaurant, Venue by Sebastian, in Shenton Way. He opened Mam Mam last year with Edmund Ang, the third-generation owner of Ponggol Nasi Lemak, who heads the operations.

Because it caters to NUH staff, prices are affordable. But there is a minimum order of $50 for delivery (varies according to your address) and that buys enough food for three people. So this works better for families than solo diners, unless you invite two guests to join you.

A problem with delivery is you can never be sure when the food arrives. My meal, which is scheduled for 7 to 7.30pm, comes at 8.30pm instead, because the eatery has problems finding a delivery person. And the food gets to me stone-cold.

At moments like these, I am glad I have a microwave oven because I can heat the food up in a jiffy, with minimal cleaning up afterwards. However, this does not work with some dishes, especially those that are deep-fried, because they turn soggy and oily.

Chef Sebastian's Signature Spice-Crusted Chicken ($7.90) is one of the dishes that I worry will ooze oil if I pop it in the oven. And it may get burnt in a toaster oven, so I eat it cold. But you should order it anyway because, while it would be so much better warm, it tastes good at any temperature.

It is crusted with a blend of more than 20 spices, and the alluring aroma wins you over the moment you open the box. It is delicious, with the juicy meat infused with the spices and seasonings in the marinade.

The Wintermelon With Conpoy Soup ($7.90) is perfect for reheating and tastes like it has just left the cafe once you warm it up. It is brewed with wolfberries, red dates, dried scallops and chunks of chicken and wintermelon, and the sweetness of the scallops or conpoy is really intense.

Congee is ideal for popping in the microwave too, and the Sliced Beef With Ginger And Spring Onion Soy Dip ($9.90) does not disappoint. The porridge is smooth and thick - even though it is a little heavy, probably from too much glutinous rice in the blend. It is very flavourful and there is a generous amount of beef, which, though tenderised, retains enough of its original flavour. And there is plenty of crispy dough fritter as well as spring onion packed separately with a soya dip.

What does not work as well is the Wok-fried Sliced Beef With Ginger And Scallion Rice Bowl ($9.90). Despite retaining some wok hei, the dish does not have much character. It is hard to make out what is in the seasoning, and the saltiness overwhelms the beef. The egg roll and chopped salted vegetables provide variety, but do little to improve the dish. Perhaps I would enjoy it more if it had arrived hot.

The Steamed Minced Chicken Patty With Mei Xiang Salted Fish ($12.90) also disappoints because the ground meat is too fine and the patty becomes too dense as a result. There is supposed to be water chestnut, but I do not taste it. But the salted fish is fragrant and, though too salty to eat on its own, is good paired with rice or congee.

Mam Mam

Where: NUHS Tower Block, Level One, 1E Kent Ridge Road
To order: Go to the Mam Mam website. There is a minimum order for delivery. It is $50 for me.
Delivery charge: I paid $10.70. For me, orders of $150 or more get free delivery, but it varies for different addresses.
3.5 stars out of 5