Review of Madam Mams

2015-12-27 • reviews

I wanted to like Madam Mam’s. Pleasant name. Great location. Colorful green building evoking homely feelings.

But now I know: it's all a facade.

Stepping through the cloudy glass doors to Madam Mam's, the first thing I sensed was a thick, nauseating, stench. It wasn't the normal Thai aroma-- some combination of meat, lemongrass, and curry. This was some mixture of ammonia, vomit, and damp nursing home.

But I gave Mams the benefit of the doubt. Maybe a bathroom pipe broke and shit had seeped into the floors. I won't fault them for accidents beyond their control.

I stared desperately at a waiter hoping to be seated quickly, hoping the food on my tongue would distract me from the smell in my nose. He noticed us and began to slowly scan the restaurant for possible seating. It was about 5pm, more than half the tables were open. We had a party of four. Without turning my head, I could see at least three clean tables that were perfect for us to be seated at.

Minutes passed but they felt like hours. The stench burned my eyes, tears dribbled down my cheeks. Finally, after some long and complex bin-packing calculations by the Madam Mam's wait staff, we were seated in a dark corner of the restaurant.

I hobbled into my wooden chair. The waiter dropped four hefty encyclopedias on the table, an interesting choice of pre-dinner reading material.

Upon closer inspection, I then realized that these monstrous binders were not encyclopedias, but menus. As I combed through the hundreds and hundreds of pages, I began to sob. No longer because of the still very prevalent smell, but because of the gruesome menu design. Fonts and line spacing varied widely-- even within the same page. Indentation strewn about randomly. Half the menu were duplicates of items-- but who could blame the poor menu designer, forced with collating the many thousands of food dishes on offer.

I couldn't handle it. First sight, now smell. Two out of five senses, shot. I collapsed, my head hitting the table.

I came back to consciousness. An hour had passed. My friends were still 1/5th of the way through the menu. As I mustered the strength to pick myself up and search the encyclopedia for something edible, I realized that the stained and suspiciously sticky table had attached itself to my left cheek.

As my friends, trying to be helpful, pulled at my hair, trying to separate head from table, I wondered how a table could possible become so sticky. I began to dream about the sheer quantity of negligence, compounding over decades, truck-loads of spilled sticky rice, lightly brushed off with a napkin instead of washed with soap and water, congealing into an industrial strength adhesive, that had now attached my head to this table-top, possibly forever.

Eventually, a mid-sized team of people were able separate my face from table with only a sliver of skin loss. The waiter took this as a sign that we were ready to order. I went with the red curry, no spice. After the pain I had already endured, I was in no condition to handle any kind of spice.

Light headed from hunger and the constant olfactory assault, I drifted in and out of consciousness. In my fever dreams, I had no conception of time, and so I did not notice the two hours it took to manufacture the red curry with tofu and rice.

The harsh yellow lighting made the food look aged and spoiled. Maybe it was spoiled. My appetite left me. But I persisted. I spooned some curry in my mouth, expecting the worst. Luckily, the red curry did not taste spoiled. It didn't taste like anything, really. Maybe old tap water.

All in all: 2/5. It would be 1/5, but the location is too good. Two blocks from CVS, a short walk to University Health Services, so if you contract giardia from your red curry, help is nearby.