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Thai Wars - Part II

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I'm still interested in the Madam Mam's vs Titaya thing. It seems like people who like Titaya's do not like Mam's, and those who like Madam Mam's don't really go crazy about Titaya's. Now Sap's is going to enter the fray in *that space* in the corner near HEB at 2222 and Burnet (Pappy's).

Personally, I could eat Thai food every day. I mean, Thai people eat Thai food every day, Italians eat Italian food every day, people in Mexico eat Mexican food every day, and Pizzans eat pizza every day. So, a glut of Thai places is just fine with me.

So what is it about Mam's or Titaya's that is better? Be specific with dishes and descriptions about what you like or what you don't like about either place. Or other places.

Is the place out past Bergstrom still running (under that water tower)?

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  1. I love the Panang beef at Mam's and they have a fish dish that is super spicy.
    It seems like I always get seated right away.
    The 2 times I went to Titaya there was a line out the door. But I did go at a peak time.

    1. I use musman curry as my standard bearer for thai food. i order plenty of other things but that's the first thing i always get.

      Titayas had a generous serving of tender chicken, plenty of peanuts, potatoes onions and sliced carrots in a thinner curry that was packed with flavor.

      Mam's has a "special musman curry" that only comes with beef. it's a slow cooked pot roast in a milder fattier curry (a result of the slow cook no doubt) with potatoes that are not fully cooked and the usual compliment of onions and carrots with fewer peanuts. You can get it with chicken or pork instead, but then it's a different dish (cheaper) and lacks the depth of flavor of titayas.

      I think their other curries all taste very similar, whereas titayas' has a variety of spices and tastes.

      The noodles at mam's often come in varying degrees of cold/mushy/clumpy. like they were cooked a while ago.

      the pineapple fried rice has a lot more flavor at titayas.

      the service at mam's can be hit or miss. I've never had bad service at titayas.

      of course this is all subject to change- titayas has been closed for almost a year now and will reopen soon....

      2 Replies
      1. re: ieathereforeiam

        I think that you are talking about P-50 at MM's. I've had that plenty of times, and the potato was always cooked perfectly. They have a regular musman (muslim) curry where you can choose the protein. Typically, I don't order curries at Thai places, especially when there are so many other offerings. I do my curry-ing at home with Mae Ploy prepared curry paste. But I do order P-50 at MM's because I consider it sublime, with a depth of flavor that cannot easily be matched at home.

        As far as the noodles, I haven't had your experience at MM's in dozens and dozens of visits over the years.

        I've only been to Titaya's maybe 8 times. My takeaway was that some of the dishes were a bit watery, some having too much spice without the "backbone" of flavor that MM's usually has.

        Maybe when Titaya's opens, we could all meet up there, and then do another night the next week at Mam's. And even Sap's! I live in close proximity to all.

        Regardless, we might all have our preferences, but we are blessed to have a choice. And Thai people are wonderful, friendly, and warm.

        1. re: rudeboy

          First off, a quick hello to everyone! I've been convinced to finally post, instead of just lurk, after all this talk of a dying board.

          I'm one of those who never understood what was so great about Titaya's. I agree with rudeboy's comments above. It never seemed worth the wait. I can't say much about MM's since I've only been once.

          Pad Thai on Guadalupe is my go-to (there's also one in Mueller near the children's hospital). I know it doesn't look like it would be good, and I never would have tried it if a friend hadn't introduced me to it, but I love it. The Guay Tiew Tom Yum is my favorite. Really complex and tasty broth. It's my favorite soup anywhere, Thai or otherwise, home-cooked or restaurant.

      2. One of my very favorite soups in town was Titaya's Gao Lao Nuer, a thin sliced beef soup in a clear brown savory broth with veggies. That alone gets my nod. The catfish in red curry is also outstanding.

        And I can provide a certain example of a restaurant patently losing this Thai war - Thai house. I knew it was a mistake walking in yesterday. I used to enjoy their buffet about 8 years ago when it was Thai passion - but my GOD this place is awful. Nearly every dish was straight palm sugar or flavorless. The fried spinach was soggy and gross. Some pad thai type crap literally smelled like dog food. I can't believe there were 20 people in there.

        2 Replies
        1. re: slowcoooked

          I think both are passable Thai. The ambiance is pretty awful at both places - I almost always order for pickup. However, one dish makes all the difference for me: khao soi, an amazing noodle soup from Northern Thailand that I can never find at Thai restaurants. Madam Mams serves it and serves it well - spicy, funky, complex, the tofu spongy and the side noodles crispy. Does anyone else in Austin serve khao soi? I'd be curious to know. Lately, I've been adding Thai Thani, a small truck on Manor Rd in East Austin, to the mix. One tip: Do not order their food super spicy. They don't mess around.

          1. re: abd

            Spin Modern Thai used too serve Khao Soi, but it was less of a soup than what Madam Mam's serves...more of a saucy curry concoction on a plate. Since the Chef from Spin is Titaya's bro, and he is supposedly helping her to revamp the restaurant, I wouldn't be surprised if it shows up there.

            It has always been a go to dish for me at MM's. Especially in the winter.

            44http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khao_soi

        2. I'm a fan of Sap's, and even though the menu hasn't changed that much (or has it? Someone might correct me on that), I like it a lot better than when it was MM's.

          The Massaman and Penang curries are frequent go-tos for me. The Sap's Special Gang Prik is probably my favorite thing on the menu – it's a coconut milk-free curry with a lot of aggressive thai basil and anise flavors, super f'n spicy.

          I've been disappointed with some of their more American-friendly mainstays – Pad Thai is pretty dreadful, heavy in an orange glop with none of the nice lightness I've enjoyed in superior versions over the years. Their Tom Kha Gai has a pretty cloyingly over the top sweet and sour thing going on.

          Tuk Tuk is also down here... I've been meaning to try it since I moved to the area, but I keep going back to Sap's.

          9 Replies
          1. re: popvulture

            Really? That's a bummer. I've never encountered orange glop at PT. I do tend not to order dishes with coconut milk though since I make red or green curry often enough at home.

            At any rate, I'm looking forward to trying Sap's at the new location.

            1. re: kosheri

              Yeah it's weird – I think of good Pad Thai as being kind of light tan in color, mainly from the noodles themselves, which I'd never really describe as "coated." Then there's usually some bits of tofu, egg, the chicken or shrimp, some cilantro, then of course the bean sprouts for garnish.

              At Sap's (it was the same when it was MM's), there are no noticeable components, more just a pile of noodles (notably a little less wide than I typically see), totally orange because they're coated in a chile-heavy sauce. It's not liquid, but it definitely coats the noodles. Anyway... it's not good, or at least not IMHO.

              1. re: popvulture

                Aha. I completely misread your previous post and thought you were referring to the restaurant Pad Thai (what a horrible name). Now I get it. The pad thai at Sap's. My mistake. Good to know. Yeah, I too think of pad thai the dish as the way you describe, not orange glop. A pile of noodles without much else sounds like a recipe for constipation.

                1. re: kosheri

                  Ahh, yep. Never been to Pad Thai, but that's indeed an unfortunate name. Like calling an Italian restaurant Spaghetti (I'm sure it's been done).

                2. re: popvulture

                  Agreed that Sap/MM's Pad Thai is really bad. But the Jungle Curry, and the Khao Soi are better than anything I've ever had at Titaya's.

                  Setting those aside, the Tiger Cry is the best I've ever had (in this country), including the one from Sway which is much more expensive and made with much, much better ingredients. It's hard for me to go to Sap's without ordering my Tiger Cry, and I like the other stuff a lot.

                  As for Titaya's, I do not get it. It seems like a very Americanized watered down strip mall style approximation of Thai food. I'd love to hear what I need to order there to understand the love and shake my apprehension.

                  1. re: puddles

                    Funny - I've never had Tiger Cry at Mam's ("Grilled beef with Mam’s special sauce served with sticky rice and
                    roasted Thai chili sauce"). Has it always been $17.50? Not sure what the cut of beef is - is it worth that much?

                    I looked up the menu here:

                    http://www.madammam.com/wp-content/up...

                    It has been well over a month since I've been, but it appears that all the prices have been raised.

                    1. re: rudeboy

                      It's expensive. It's a big serving of a lot of meat. Typically flank or skirt steak, so not premium cuts either. It's enough to split, if you get other stuff. But I have to admit, I usually hoard it for myself, selfish pig that I am.

                      The special sauce reminds me of (I think it's called) Nam Jim Jeaw, which for whatever reason, I've been unable to replicate or avail myself of on these shores. This is the closest approximation I've found, and I am hooked on it. May just be me...

                3. re: kosheri

                  Wait - did popvulture mean the restaurant Pad Thai (third paragraph) or Pad Thai and Tom Kha at Sap's?

                  1. re: rudeboy

                    Oh, I started my question over an hour ago and forgot to hit the reply button - I see that y'all cleared that up.

                    I think that the Sap's menu is almost identical to MM's. MM's just added about 6 or so special entrees, though. I've never ordered pad thai from MM's or Sap's, but I've had tom kha at MM's and though it was too heavy on the coconut milk. Also, it is so easy to make at home the way I like it (think Thai Kitchen on Guadalupe) that I don't order it out anyhow. Tom kha is the ONLY think that I did not enjoy at MM's in all my visits.

              2. The place past Bergstrom is still running. I hear it's pretty much the same but I haven't been.

                This may be posted elsewhere but I don't see it. They finally began renovation on Titaya's about 10 days ago. Based on what I saw them putting in the dumpster out front, they are doing a pretty heavy interior remodel.

                6 Replies
                1. re: ridgeback

                  You mean Dick's Little Thailand?

                  1. re: popvulture

                    Yeah - anybody been lately? I had a good experience there....not so much the food, but the drinks and fun until late in the night after the meal. There were lots of cool patron in the lounge in the back.

                    1. re: rudeboy

                      I have not been since Dick died, rest his soul. He was great. I loved their alcohol policy :-)

                  2. re: ridgeback

                    Titaya's is expanding into the space next door. They're adding more seating and a front entrance waiting area. They'll also be updating the menu, which makes me nervous. But at least it looks like they're actually reopening.

                    1. re: mollyjade

                      Yep, they are blowing and going on the renovation. Looks live they've gutted a lot of the interior.

                      Someone mentioned a new thai place on Burnet will be opening where Pappy's used to be. Any one have some added detail?

                      1. re: mollyjade

                        titaya's brother was the chef at spin modern thai and will be working on the menu so that bodes well.

                        I went back to mam's this week after reading this in hopes of changing my opinion.

                        the service was as lousy as ever and the musman curry could have been anything for as bland as it was.

                        bummer.

                    2. Pulling this up again - have y'all been to the "new" Titaya's? How is their updated menu? Favorites?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: rudeboy

                        I didn't like the old Titaya's so haven't been motivated to go stand in line. Am interested in seeing what 'hounders think.

                        1. re: rudeboy

                          I think it's a mixed bag.

                          The food seems as good as before, though it's a little hard for me to compare since the dishes I used to order aren't on the menu anymore (Gang Panang and Pad Kra Tiem Plick Thai). I don't eat meat, so I can't speak to any of the new larb or specialty dishes. It looks like they added some of the fish items that used to be on their specials board to the permanent menu.

                          The wait, which so many people seem to be complaining about, is about what it was before they remodeled. They didn't really add many tables, mostly kitchen and bar space.

                          The service needs work, but I'm willing to give them time to work that out. They're starting with an entirely new wait staff, excepting the owners. For example, it used to be possible to get in and out for lunch in under an hour, and the new servers haven't gotten the hang of that yet.