Mamala’s new location is at the just-opened KLab Center at the Xueyuan and Wensan corner, re-dubbed m.tinbox. I didn’t write the review of the other Mamala locations at Loft 49 and Kerry Center because they didn’t ask me to, and in a fit of pique I didn’t read it to prepare for this review. In addition to serving my spite this had the benefit of me going in with zero preconceptions; I had no idea what I was getting myself into*.
m.tinbox is set up as a coffee shop or bistro, with cozy tables and a well-lit but quiet atmosphere. The weather is nippy these days, but they have attractive outdoor seating facing the complex’s indoor courtyard which I’ll be using come better weather days.
As my fans know, my tastes tend toward the more exotic and weird when I’m not paying. In addition to regular americanos (24RMB) to get our appetites whetted, the “Caramel N’ Lime Cold Brew Coffee” (46RMB) caught my eye—in a “this sounds like a bonkers drink” way—at the back of the menu in the cocktails section. The sours and bitters of the lime and coffee combined perfectly with the light caramel sweetness, and the merengue-looking milk foam biased my taste assumptions toward Key lime pie (not accurate, but not *totally* off base). This is excellent, something I’ll be back for.
The first food to arrive was the Caesar Salad with Tiger Prawn (58RMB) and the Egg Benedict with Hokkaido Toast and Smoked Salmon (48RMB). I’ve had smoked salmon eggs Benedict at a few other places in town recently, and m.tinbox has the best. Other restaurants tend to pair the salmon with asparagus, which adds little in the way of flavor and breaks up the texture of the dish in a way I don’t appreciate. At m.tinbox though, the Hokkaido toast and avocado make this a deliciously soft and creamy dish all the way through; you could eat it with a spoon!
Also from the brunch menu: Grilled Sausages (68RMB) and Mexican Shrimp Dumplings (58RMB). The former was delicious and exactly what you’d expect, with good sized sausages and a large helping of roast veggies and Scotch eggs. The Mexican Shrimp Dumplings though was a real standout, with another collection of contrasting flavors and textures working beautifully together. The side of pumpkin puree with the shrimp meat dumplings, I have nothing to compare it to, it’s a delicious and alien dish where a simple description can’t do it justice and I’ll be back for more.
For pasta, we enjoyed the Creamy Mushroom Gnocchi (58RMB) and the Porcini Mushroom Risotto (78RMB); that’s a lot of mushrooms and I’m showing my hand a little, but mushrooms are awesome and don’t be a hater. I was deeply satisfied with both but I’ll always be more partial to risotto over virtually any other pasta option, and the dollop of pan-seared foie gras put this one over the top. This gets my comfort food badge of honor. It’s bad form to autoplagiarize from two paragraphs up but “deliciously soft and creamy” has to do double duty for this article.
Dessert was Jasmine and Raspberry Mousse Cake (46RMB) and Peach Mousse Cake (48RMB) so uh… I guess I’ll be going back to the rhetorical well one more time: deliciously… soft, and creamy. Pair them with coffee.
*“The menu is totally different here from the other ones!”, she said. “¯\_(ツ)_/¯” I replied.