Mahota Review – Healthy Meal Out
We heard of Mahota from a friend and was curious what it was about. The website said that it is basically a concept store that offers us the choice to live a balanced, healthy life through gourmet food and be in harmony with nature. The company produces their own organic produce to serve it at their restaurants and sell it in their store. This is a concept of trace-ability and accountability which most retailers cannot claim.
I bet that most of you immediately think how organic can it be if it is grown in China? Is it trustworthy? Well, having ran my chocolate factory there for 8 years, I can only say that in general, what matters is who is doing it, not where it is. So if the people behind this concept store has a strong corporate culture that ingrains the importance of organic and good quality produce to its entire team, then it is likely that they are doing what they preach. It does not matter if this is in China or Australia.
So can we trust the Chinese? Well, I don’t know. In my years there, I daresay that they are as trustworthy as any other businessman anywhere in the world so long as you do your initial screening to weed out business partners that do not meet your basic criteria in quality control and business management (same process everywhere else). In some sense, I daresay that the Chinese are even more trustworthy once they belong to the group that cares for what they do because they believe in the Chinese values of integrity 道德.
The concept Mahota has is fantastic and I have met many business friends in China who dream of such a concept albeit for different reasons. Some because they want to capitalize on the fear of consumers, knowing that these people are willing to fork out for “safe and quality” food so they only care how to maximize their profits using this opportunity. These are the people who you want to avoid. Then there are those who genuinely believe in this concept and knows the frustrations of consumers and will do what they can to achieve it. These are the people that we want to buy from.
Where does Mahota fall? So far, I honestly, cannot judge now but I will be keeping my eyes open for telltales signs before I decide. Signs to look out for range from the authenticity of the brands they carry (are these real and reputable brands or brands created to deceive?), chatting with the staff on the origins of the produce and their knowledge of what constitutes as organic, testing the quality of the products they sell.
As we were in a bit of a hurry, we only did a quick walk through and survey of the supermarket. It has a wider variety of goods than I expected. Offerings range from organic produce to organic sauces to essential oils and kitchen utensils and crockery.
Mahota takes up the entire Level 3 of Kitchener Complex next to V Hotel near Lavender MRT station. It reminds me of Muji. Clean, minimalist, green and bright. They use a lot of solid wood that Ed was very excited about. I think he was paying more attention to the wood than the goods. -_- Quite aligned with their concept. We were greeted politely and shown to our tables. Service was generally polite and the female staff more friendly, smiley and chatty.
We were shown the set menu as well as the a la carte one. The a la carte menu looks rather pricey with mains costing as much as $36. I took a quick glance and the average price is probably higher $20s. Salads were about $15 and above. They also have hot pot sets ranging from $20+ to $30+. The set menu looks like a good deal. At $18.80, you have choice of soup or salad, choose from 3 mains (mushroom pasta, chicken or fish) and a chocolate ice cream. So we decided to take a salad, a soup, a mushroom pasta and a fish.
Generally, the food at Mahota tasted flavourful without being too sweet or salty. Natural, wholesome food. That is definitely a good start and something we love. There are hits and also some unexpected misses. Luckily the courses that matter tasted good. I think it is a place worth visiting as there are not many places that offer wholesome food outside of home. This is the first place that can claim they are making food from their own organic source. I don’t think even Open Farm Community can claim organic, only locally sourced.
Having said that, I am always dubious of organic claims. It is good enough for me that the foods are fresh, less processed and naturally flavoured with low salt and sugar.
Mixed fruits salad was refreshing, fresh and having 2 dressings made in interesting as the mayonnaise like cream and the sesame oil from the vinaigrette blended well.
Potato and Leek soup was flavorful but not too salty. For those that do not like leeks, you may not like this as you can really taste the fragrance of the leeks. The only disappointing thing was the croutons.
Rigatoni pasta with mushrooms was our favourite. We seldom order pasta outside anymore as we make our own and well, we are picky with pasta. This is not fresh pasta, but it was cooked perfectly al dente and the sauce was the right consistency. Ed enjoyed the pasta a lot as he likes the woody and earthy aftertaste thanks to the mushrooms. I tasted a bite and at first felt it was under seasoned. But after a few more mouthfuls, the taste builds up and it tasted just nice. Simple pasta, but well cooked. Only thing is that this is actually penne pasta, not rigatoni, but the 2 are pretty similar so, no major issue. Important thing is that it tastes good.
Pan seared red snapper with sweet potato and quinoa with almond tomato salsa was a good dish on the whole. Fish was slightly crispy on outside and juicy within. The quinoa well flavoured with the tomato salsa and the sweet potatoes firm yet very creamy. However, the fish eaten by itself may taste a little under seasoned and thus, a tiny bit fishy and the last bit of our fish tasted a bit dry. Guess it was slightly unevenly cooked. Overall still a good dish.
The complimentary bread looked good, but unexpectedly, tasted like when I had a bad day with my breads. Hard, crumbly and well, just totally not appetising. The dips and jams were good though. We had fig jam, balsamic vinegar with olive oil and we can’t remember the last one. Advice to the restaurant to improve the bread or take it out. Change to something else.
Chocolate ice cream looks very sad sitting in a large sundae glass designed for at least 3 scoops. I was not hungry so did not feel too offended. LOL… Anyway, the chocolate was probably home made or made to taste healthy. Low sugar, in fact, a little too low because they used a rather acidic tasting cocoa which made the ice cream have an acidic after taste instead of the usual rounded bitter after taste of a dark chocolate (although chocolates higher than 65% tastes acidic too). If you are ok with that, then this is not really a miss. But I still prefer my chocolate with a rounded after taste as I am not a fan of sour food in general.
Overall, it is a nice place with a good concept. Once the couple of misses are corrected, I will definitely come back for more.
If you would like to enjoy some wholesome, healthy foods at home, you can check out our recipes on this website.