It’s a little ridiculous that I’m writing about Mam, because they’re now closed 'til at least the beginning of December. But I’ve been cyber-stalking the place - a Vietnamese pop-up on Forsyth St. that was only ever open on weekend evenings - since I first read about it a few months ago. I never managed to get there, and it closed for regular service last week. But they had a one-night-only pop-up tonight from 5:30 'til they sold out of crab noodles. I got there at 5:10, and a good thing, too, because this was the line just after I was the second one through the door:
Or rather, onto a low plastic stool at a table outside the front window. I cannot tell you how irritated my stupid hip was by this, but it’s caused me enough trouble, and it wasn’t going to ruin this for me, too.
The menu had one thing on it: crab noodles, with optional add-ons like pork trotter and pork sausage and poached snails (which is what I chose). I also threw in an iced tamarind drink which came with a handful of chopped peanuts thrown over top, and what the hell is that about?
The noodles were good, although they could’ve been hotter, temperature-wise. The woman seated next to me gave me one of her crullers and flagged down the lone server to get us some fermented shrimp paste and hot pepper. And then the noodles were even better.
I made my third visit to Mam tonight, but since I forgot to post about my second visit, in March, I’ll throw in the clam soup I had then. It was excellent - very tiny clams, about a million of them. I got to sit on the inside of the window that time, but people kept leaving the door open and I kept having to close it (it was cold), which was irritating. I added an order of fried tofu.
And tonight! Mackerel. For the past too many weeks, Mam has been serving a big tray of stuff I don’t eat, and if anyone is in the market for unusual pig parts, get thee hence, 'cause it’s still available. I have held out for the fish, with rice paper (which does not taste like a food, tbh), various herbs and lettuces, rice noodles, cucumbers and a very nice funky sauce. This time I was seated facing a wall. I miss being in the window.
Is the last pic un-rehydrated rice paper like for a summer roll but left crunchy? (‘Ive seen the vertical doodad where you dip the paper into water for a second before rolling it up with the fillings for a DIY roll situation, but not come across a situation where one eats the rice paper without roasting or rehydrating.)
It was very hard to bite through, and if you told me it was a thin sheet of stiff plastic, I would have believed it. There’s a brief shining moment after you hit it with liquid when it is soft, after which it disintegrates entirely. My “taco” picture is very time sensitive!
Did they give you one of these (or equivalent) to dip the rice paper
No, and I took some time to look around the room in case I was doing it “wrong.” If I was, so was everyone else. The closest approximation of the texture I can think of is that clear colored plastic used to wrap gifts.
Yeah I know the texture of the sheets that’s why I’m surprised
You and me both! I just looked at a couple videos, and some people seem to roll the rice paper inside a lettuce leaf. Which might have been a good idea, too.
Can’t get my head around how the dry rice paper can be rolled - unless there’s just enough water left on the lettuce to make it bendy?
It was fairly pliable. Which is what made it so hard to bite through.
Beautiful though! Maybe the dipping sauce can help?
The dipping sauce basically dissolved the paper, like a leaf of gelatin. Luckily I had about 6 tries to get it sort of right: rice paper, lettuce, mackerel, cuke, rice noodles, sauce.