Prague’s Mămăm Bistro: “The food is a reflection of us”
Conventional is not the concept when it comes to the new bistro in Prague’s Vršovice operated by couple Meggie and Nugy. The duo have created a space that brings together a fusion of the food they love from all cuisines, curating a unique dining experience for their guests. I spoke with the pair about the process of opening the bistro, and the ambitions they have for its future.
If you’re looking for a classic Vietnamese place that slings traditional bowls of pho, you’ve come to the wrong place. Mămăm bistro, the newly opened love child of Nugy and Meggie is offering up something new and special in Prague, a fusion of the couple’s beloved dishes that mixes every kind of cuisine – from Czech to Vietnamese. As Nugy explains, opening the restaurant happened quickly.
“We were thinking that opening the restaurant was something we would do in the future, maybe two or three years down the road, but not now. There was one space we found but it was a bit too complicated, and we thought, ‘maybe it’s too soon’.
“Suddenly two weeks after, we were casually looking for some places, and we found this space, and we loved it. We were thinking really fast, and we decided to take it, and now we’re here.”
The cuisine served up at Mămăm, which means “to eat” in Vietnamese, certainly does not fit into a box. But for the couple, that’s the point they want to make. Meggie and Nugy both grew up in Czechia with Vietnamese parents, and love to bridge the cuisines together in different dishes on their menu, as the latter explains.
“We don’t want to represent ourselves as a place with an Asian fusion concept, but our concept is that we do what we love, so it doesn’t have to be only Asian food, it could be a fusion with Italian in the future, or something I might consider interesting.”
“The food is a reflection of us, because we’re Czech people with a Vietnamese background. We love Vietnamese food and also some Czech food.
“That’s how we create our food, for example the green pea cream and curry – I have loved curry since I was a kid, so I combined the two when I was cooking it at home, and I thought it might be a nice idea for our menu, so that’s how it got there.”
Prague is home to many Vietnamese restaurants and some diners may perceive their cuisine as cheap and quick. However, Meggie says, many fail to realise the time and effort that goes into it.
“I think it’s a pity, because the generation of our parents kind of brought down the value of Vietnamese food. For example, pho is a really long process, if you do it right. A lot of work goes into it, and it's typically sold for only 100 crowns, which is not the value of the food. People have it fixed in their minds that Vietnamese food is the cheap place behind the corner. But it’s not that”
Addressing that misconception around Vietnamese cuisine and mixing it in with others is the guiding vision of Mămăm. As Nugy and Meggie say, it has been both a difficult and rewarding process opening the bistro.
[Nugy] “The most challenging part was building this restaurant of course. There was a lot of stress, anger, and frustration. But we’re finally here, we made it!
“The most rewarding part is that when people come they like the interior, they like the food, and the vibe – and that’s what we want to achieve. It’s not just coming for quick Asian food, but coming to have some food, to have a drink, to have a chat with your friend, just coming to have a good time.”
[Meggie] “I like that people see our effort, because it took us a long time to choose everything. Even spoons and dishes, and people notice! Every second person that comes in tells us how nice our spoons are.”