Saturday, August 26, 2006

Restaurant Review - Mama Fu's Asian House, Mall of Millenia, Orlando, FL

UPDATE 12/23/06 - Well, the Mama Fu's outside of Millenia Mall has bit the dust - completely gone and already replaced with another store. However, as far as I know, the Lake Mary Mama Fu's is still open.

Today for lunch we ate lunch at Mama Fu's Asian House at the strip mall directly outside the Millenia Mall. We actually ate there about a year ago, I believe the first few days the restaurant opened, and I wasn't that impressed. But, I decided to give it another try since they were new when I first went.

Mama Fu's is in the same tradition as Doc Chuy's (near Florida Mall) and Pei Wei - kind of fast casual Asian fusion cuisine. I've never tried Pei Wei but I really like Doc Chuy's. Both Doc's and Mama's offer counter service for lunch and then table service for dinner. Since it was lunch time, we stepped up to the counter to order our food. Mama Fu's has a beautiful decor, rich reds and golden yellows, with fountains and Asian touches for accents. The menu is on a board to the left of the ordering counter. Lunch offers appetizers (a large selection), soups (Thai coconut or wonton), entree salads, signature dishes where you choose your meat and then how you want it cooked (teriyaki, honey seared, red Thai curry, etc), and noodle bowls (Pad Thai, Lo Mein, Thai Fun Noodles, and Spicy Basil). For the dinner menu, steak, grouper, and baby back ribs get added as well as desserts.

I have to tell you that one of the reasons I didn't like Mama Fu's the first time I went was because I ordered two of my favorite Thai dishes - Thai Coconut Soup and a Pad Thai Noodle Bowl with chicken. They did not taste anything like what I would get at a Thai restaurant. Not exactly bad... just different. So I decided to stay away from the Thai dishes this time. One of the dishes I had liked last time was an appetizer that Grandpa had gotten - the Dynamite Shrimp. It is shrimp coated in a spicy crispy topping and then drizzled with a creamy sauce, served on top of Asian slaw. So, I got that as my main lunch meal - in Big Mama size for $7.99. All of the appetizers come in either Mama size or a bigger Big Mama size -- nice if you want to share. I also got the wonton soup for $1.99. For the boys, I ordered off of the kids' menu. There are three choices, all for $3.49 and come with a drink and a chocolate chip cookie - Dragon Tails (chicken fingers with mac-n-cheese), Scooby "Fu" (honey garlic chicken with mac-n-cheese), and Ninja Noodles (Teriyaki chicken over noodles or rice). I got both of them the Dragon Tails. I thought it was a nice touch to serve chicken fingers with mac-n-cheese -- two of my kids' favorites in one meal. Grandma and Grandpa were not too hungry so they chose off the appetizer menu as well. They order the Mama size Beef Curry Rolls for $3.99 and each got a soup - Grandma got the wonton as well and Grandpa decided to try the Thai Coconut. After paying, the cashier gave us a number to put on our table and said the food would be delivered when it was ready.

We got our drinks (they offer a selection of hot teas or they have Blackberry Jasmine and regular China Mist iced tea at the drink station) and sat down. Grandpa noticed the condiment bar and came back with soy sauce, hot mustard, and hot sauce, all in nice little glass containers for our table. In a few minutes, our soups showed up and the kids' food as well. Everything was served on real plates in a fun, colorful pattern. My wonton soup was fantastic! It came with two shrimp and pork wontons and the broth was very flavorful and filled with scallions, carrots, and baby spinach leaves. Grandma liked hers as well. Grandpa didn't so much care for the Thai Coconut soup. I tried it again - yep, I still didn't like it. It was too coconutty and just didn't taste right. Plus, it had tomatoes in it - not a typical Thai soup ingredient. The boys got three small strips of chicken and a small portion of mac-n-cheese -- however, with the way my kids eat, it was just right. When I was about halfway through my soup, my Dynamite Shrimp and the Beef Curry Rolls arrived. Yummy! My Dynamite Shrimp was as tasty as I remembered. I must have had about 10 small-to-medium shrimp on top of the slaw. The spice is slow to gather so it wasn't until I was almost finished that I started to feel the hot spices. The slaw really helped to cool it down. Grandma and Grandpa also liked the Beef rolls - although Grandma declared the sauce that accompanied it was too spicy. The boys did pretty well, finishing most of the macaroni, and each a finger of chicken and then started begging me for their cookies. I finally gave in - the cookies were nice and big with hunks of chocolate chips. The servers were very nice and kept checking back with us so I asked for a to-go box for the leftover chicken fingers. They brought back a very cute mini Chinese to-go carton to put them in. What was the best part? We got to leave the table as is as they come and clean up your table as well. So, I would go back, but I'd still avoid all of the Thai dishes. I'll have to try Mama Fu's for dinner one time as well.

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