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New: The Mami House is the Only Place in Town Serving Up Bold Filipino Flavor

Food & Drink, Food & Drink News

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Written by Brett Llenos Smith

Published on October 18, 2022
The Mami House / Photo courtesy of The Mami House

Influenced by Chinese, Spanish, American and Pacific island cuisines, Filipino food has a lot of familiar flavors and ingredients, but they’re combined to make something that’s more than the sum of its parts.

Recently opened, The Mami House in Niagara Falls is one of the few places in Western New York you can get Filipino food and it’s the closest Filipino restaurant to Buffalo this side of the US-Canada border. Trying to introduce a new cuisine to an area can be a tough slog. At The Mami House, owners John and Lerm Herher have made the smart choice of basing their menu around mami — a Filipino noodle dish that’s similar to other noodle soups from the region.

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The Mami House / Photo courtesy of The Mami House
The Mami House / Photo courtesy of The Mami House

“The Japanese call their signature noodle soup ramen,” says co-owner John Herher. “The Vietnamese call theirs pho. For Filipinos, we just call it mami, which is the type of noodle.”

After growing up in the Philippine capital of Manila, Herher moved to California in 1999, eventually finding work at a Filipino restaurant. In 2015, he moved to Niagara Falls to be closer to his ailing mother. His wife and co-owner Lerma Herher eventually joined him in Niagara Falls and the couple recently opened The Mami House as a way to showcase their national cuisine.

At various points in its history, the Philippines were occupied by the Chinese and the Spanish. At The Mami House, the culinary fingerprints of these cultures can be seen from Chinese-influenced rice and noodle dishes, to the Spanish-inspired use of vinegar and annatto. Herher says all of his soups and noodle dishes are made using beef or chicken stock made from scratch.

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The Mami House / Photo courtesy of The Mami House
The Mami House / Photo courtesy of The Mami House
The Mami House / Photo courtesy of The Mami House
The Mami House / Photo courtesy of The Mami House

If you’re at all familiar with Filipino food, you may be surprised by the menu’s absence of adobo. Considered the national dish of the Philippines, adobo involves stewing meat — usually chicken or pork — in a bath of vinegar, soy sauce, lots of garlic and bay leaves. Herher says you might see adobo as a menu special from time to time, but he says the dish is more suited to homestyle cooking, not restaurant-quality cooking.

“For me, I think adobo is so common,” he says. “You can cook it at home. Why go to a Filipino restaurant if you can just cook chicken adobo or pork adobo at home? But I could always add those at some point. We’ll see how it goes!”

“The reviews that we’ve gotten so far have been pretty good,” he adds. “I’m actually a bit surprised how much people are open to trying Filipino food.”

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The Mami House / Photo courtesy of The Mami House
The Mami House / Photo courtesy of The Mami House
The Mami House / Photo courtesy of The Mami House

Filipino cuisine is also influenced by ingredients found within the island nation. At The Mami House, an iconic Filipino dessert called halo-halo ($7) features coconut get, jackfruit, a tropical purple yam called ube and condensed milk over shaved ice. The dessert menu also features three different flavors of Filipino ice cream ($5) and leche flan ($5), another Filipino classic brought to the islands by Spanish colonialists. Herher says he’s looking to add ‘silog’ breakfast—which are traditional breakfast dishes of grilled meat, garlic fried rice and fried eggs.

After many years of cooking for massive corporations and other people, Herher says he’s happy to finally own his own place where he cooks the food he loves.

“Filipino food has a lot of variety,” he says “Taste-wise, it has a lot more flavor than American or, say, Italian food. We add more aromatics and flavors to our dishes. I don’t know, that’s just my point of view.”

“Cooking is my passion,” he adds. “I know sometimes it can be hard, but hey, I love what I do!”

Hours at time of publishing (Subject to change): Monday and Tuesday 4 p.m. – 9 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.

The Mami House

250 Rainbow Blvd. Niagara Falls, NY 14303 • $

Filipino

Niagara County

Casual Table Service

The Mami House provides different signature Filipino cuisines. We offer an outstanding and wide variety of Mami Filipino cuisine. Our specialty dish, MAMI is ...

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Written by <a href="https://stepoutbuffalo.com/author/brett-smith/" target="_self">Brett Llenos Smith</a>

Written by Brett Llenos Smith

Brett Llenos Smith is a freelance writer based in Buffalo’s Allentown neighborhood who has been covering local food and culture for Step Out Buffalo over the past six years. As someone with a multi-ethnic background, he has a passion for exploring and understand the many diverse corners of Western New York.

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