For over a decade, Tiki Confer has been loudly promoting Thai cuisine. Her new, eponymously named restaurant in a far west Fort Worth strip mall features many beloved dishes from Bangkok House, where she ran the kitchen for years before striking out on her own.
Mama Tiki’s Thai Food is a family affair. When a guest and I visited recently, Confer’s sweet and charming daughter Linda was running the front of the house, and running is truly what she was doing. Though there are fewer than 12 tables, all of them were full. (The restaurant is so small that people waiting for to-go orders have to sort of mill around and try not to spook Brownie, a staffer’s service dog.) Not only do Mama and her sister cook everything from scratch, but Linda was the only server that evening.
To pass the time, diners are treated to complimentary shrimp chips (made from puffy rice) and a dainty bowl of broth with steamed veggies. The chips tasted better the hungrier we got. The veggie soup was simple, salty, and delicious.
Although we ordered the tom kha soup and the salad spring rolls with shrimp as appetizers, we got them with our meal. It was a minor annoyance, mostly because the tables are too small to accommodate appetizers and dinner all at once. We also felt forced to rush through the starters to be able to enjoy our entrées while they were still warm.
The appetizers were a mixed bag. The traditional coconut milk soup infused with lemongrass and Thai spice had a good helping of earthy, flavorful fish stock, which kept each bite from being overly sweet and rich. There also was an ample amount of succulent white meat chicken and brown wood mushrooms. For heat, we went with Level 2, which proved to be too hot for one diner and way too mild for the other. (Mama Tiki’s spice levels range from mild to “Dragon Hot X3.”) Interestingly, the tom kha wasn’t served in a silver hot pot but in a beautifully patterned large bowl, which made digging into the broth and the chunky goodies easy.
The spring rolls were fresh, and that’s about the most positive thing we can say about them. The massive amount of lettuce stuffed into the roll exploded from the first bite, and the three rubbery, thinly sliced shrimp pieces tasted peculiar. The peanut dipping sauce was an odd, runny, not-too-appetizing mess.
Fortunately, the entrées were still warm. The pad Thai was a faithful, traditional rendering of the classic rice noodle dish. Nothing fancy, and no pretty garnishes, just a solid mingling of the sweet, salty, and slightly sour seasonings with noodles and more of that white meat chicken.
The yellow curry was also simple and successful: just tofu and potatoes in a golden coconut- and spice-filled broth. The nickel-sized pieces of tofu, painstakingly cut and pan-fried to perfection, provided the ideal vehicle for the fabulous sauce. We took home what was left to pour over rice the next day. Yum.
Sadly, the Thai coffee we ordered at the beginning of the meal never materialized. Anyway, we were too full for dessert or even a dessert beverage.
Looking for food fast? Look elsewhere. Otherwise, say hello to Mama.
Mama Tiki’s Thai Food
4400 Benbrook Hwy, Ste 108, FW.
817-560-1505. 11am-9pm Tue-Fri, noon-9pm Sat.
All major credit cards accepted. Cash discount.
Spring rolls w/shrimp $6.99
Tom kha $9.99
Yellow curry $9.99
Pad Thai $9.99