Mama Fu’s is an Austin based, US chain of Asian themed restaurants. This Festival City branch is one of only two outside the US, the other being in Abu Dhabi. Yet as flattering as that may sound to the UAE, the truth is that Mama Fu’s offers absolutely nothing new in concept or execution to either Dubai or the capital’s OTT culinary scene. And that’s because Mama Fu’s basically a PF Chang’s wannabe. It’s a copycat, and a bad one at that.
Top marks to them on appearances though; Mama Fu’s certainly has the funky outward appeal to draw customers in. A clean, modernist Asian theme greets you as you enter, not dissimilar to Wagamama, Busaba Eathai, or even Pei Wei Asian Diner.
Open up the menu and it’s very much a copy paste of PFC’s, everything from lettuce wraps to dynamite shrimp – it’s all there, unashamedly undisguised.
But the food is not nearly as good as any of the established players mentioned earlier, certainly not anywhere close to PF Chang’s or Wagamama. We tried an assortment of starters and mains, and bar the Tom Yum soup, we were disappointed with everything else. In fact, I sent back their poor excuse for Singapore Noodles, only to have it replaced with an only slightly better (but still substandard) Lo Mein Shrimps.
If there’s a silver lining, it is their service. On the day my friends and I visited, the mainly Filipino staff were super friendly, smiley, and fantastically accommodating. I’d like to say a special thank you to Quinn, for putting up with my grumpiness (I get like that when I’m served rubbish), and for trying to make it better.
Listen, there’s nothing wrong, wrong with Mama Fu’s. Some may actually prefer the taste to the original it tries to copy, simply because it is closer to the Indian-Asia/Chinese we get in most Chinese restaurants in Dubai. Other than that, it offers nothing new and/or better. And it’s all at the same price point, which begs the question – why? If it were cheaper, at least you’d have that.
Anyway, if you ask me, I’ll tell you to stick with the established franchises – no one does dynamite shrimp better than PF Chang’s. And if you want something new and different, just walk a few meters around the corner from Mama Fu’s…to the amazing Motomachi.