When your food looks and smells incredible, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t create a special environment to enjoy it in. There’s an atmosphere and sense of occasion that comes with eating out, and it is possible to recreate it at home. But where to start?
Mamasan, the busy, eccentric East Asian bar brimming with trinkets and scavenged furniture, is a fun and interestingly fit out spot to eat dinner. We asked owners Adam Hunt and Gemma Lin for their tips on how to style a dinner party at home.
Decorate with personal items
“You almost want to decorate your home so it looks like 1920s Shanghai meets Moulin Rouge, or something,” Hunt says. That’s not always feasible, he says with a laugh, but what’s essential is to be brave. Both Hunt and Lin stress the idea of character. Just like their space in Surry Hills, you can fill your dining room with objects and artworks of meaning. “When you have a brand new space, you have to bring your own character, you need old stuff,” says Lin. Mamasan is brimming with special objects that hint at the area’s various identities and different aspects of the restaurant owners’ lives. Choose some personal items that mean something to you and showcase them.
Get the lighting right
“What's really important, as far as atmosphere goes, is lighting.” Hunt describes his bemusement at the amount of restaurants lit with the glary vein-highlighting vibe of a convenience store. “I don't want to sit there for 10 minutes, let alone a whole a meal.” He recommends toying with your lighting, whether with shades, custom lights or candles. Go for a dim hue and warm colours.
Lin says the most essential thing is to take the meal seriously. Don’t go near Tupperware or any plastic cutlery and crockery. Even if your food comes compartmentalised into 10 different components, she suggests finding a nice piece of crockery for each one.
Serve with sake …
Of course, what drinks you serve to accompany your meal is incredibly important. Hunt and Lin are both eager to suggest sake, and Hunt recommends the CBD’s Red Bottle for a good range. As a quick tip, look for Ginjo-style sake (the highest quality stuff). Don’t limit yourself to one style of drink. “When the food starts, have a bit of sake and then move onto wine. Then come back with plum wine or sake at the end,” Lin says. Why not do a cocktail, too? “If you’re having sashimi, a dry Martini would be perfect.”
… or unique beers
Hunt is a fan of Asian beer. Two interesting brews that are easy to come by are Kinshachi Akamiso’s Red Miso Beer and Koshihikari Echigo’s Rice Beer. “They’re boutique beers, like a cocktail in itself,” says Lin.
The final point from the pair is to consider the structure of your meal. “Sometimes people who eat out a lot get very particular about the order in which their food appears,” says Hunt. The Mamasan duo prefers sharing plates served in series. “Try two, three dishes at a time,” says Lin.
Re-create Mamasan at home by ordering its food via Deliveroo and putting its styling tips into action.
This article is presented in partnership with Deliveroo.