The day was gray and windy, not an ideal Friday to go out and eat lunch with my friends during school. However, I still wanted to take a break from that unappetizing school lunch served every day. It seemed like a perfectly good opportunity to try out this Thai restaurant that has been so popular among my classmates and friends: Mamu Thai.
The walk to Mamu Thai took about 2 minutes because the restaurant is located just around the corner from our school. As I stepped in the restaurant, I was overwhelmed by the sweet aromatic smell of a mixture of spices: garlic, onion, shrimp paste, chilies, and something I couldn’t identify. It smelled like barbecue, but had a hint of lemony sourness to it. The small restaurant’s brightly-decorated walls caught my eye: on one side, there was a huge collage covered with signs that displayed pictures and words that were in both Thai and English. From the ceilings hung incandescent pendant lights, their warm yellow glow illuminating the entire restaurant, casting a cozy and serene atmosphere. Lined along the collage wall was a long wooden counter with five red bar stools beautifully embroidered with swirling golden thread. From the walls, which were painted with red and yellow, hung small paintings of Buddha. There was a panoramic glass window built into a wall, which allowed customers to see the kitchen from the dining area. Soft country music playing from the speakers filled the entire room.
There were eight people in the restaurant when I arrived, six of whom were BSGE students. All of them were lined up against the front of the store, eagerly waiting to order their dishes. When I finally obtained a menu from my friend (and also the last one on the rack), I studied the different prices of the food and their varieties. The majority of the food ranged from $4.50 to $10.50, which in some cases are a little expensive. I scanned the menu from top to bottom: besides serving lunch, Mamu Thai also served appetizers, soup, salads, noodles, house specialty (such as Lard Naa, sautéed broad rice noodles and Chinese Broccoli topped with Thai style gravy sauce), rice and vegetable dishes, curries, and dessert. I ordered Thai Fried Rice, which cost $8.50. As I waited for the food to be prepared, I interviewed a few of my classmates whom I saw at the restaurant.
Leanna Johnston ’17, who is a regular at Mamu Thai said, “I have a craving for this place now, all the time. It’s a nice little place.” Martin Lazos Bobadilla ’17 added, “and it’s the first opening from the food truck.” Martin was referring to the humble origins of Mamu Thai as a food truck called “Mamu Thai Noodle” that traveled all around New York City. This store, which opened only recently, is Mamu Thai Noodle’s first opening as a restaurant.
Now, back to the good stuff: Food! The wait for my meal took about 15 minutes, since there were several orders placed before mine. When my fried rice finally came, I was surprised by how appealing it looked: golden rice, topped with a few pieces of peach-colored shrimp, scrambled eggs, sliced tomatoes, and chopped welsh onion. On the side of the dish was a perfectly sliced piece of lime and a crispy golden spring roll, the entire dish encased in a black circular container with a clear plastic cover. From the top of the container, I could catch whiffs of the food. The aroma of the rice was so delicious that it is a challenge to even describe it.
Before I left, I was lucky enough to conduct an interview with the restaurant owner, a polite lady around her late 20s who spoke in fluent, perfect English. When asked her view on the recent influx of BSGE students to her restaurant, she responded: “I love it, I think it’s great because they’re a whole new generation that uses social media to promote what they like. I think this definitely boosted our sales, because every time these students come in they’ll either check in or post pictures on Instagram. This has definitely helped with our popularity.” Good job, BSGE!
After I rushed back to school in gleeful anticipation to stuff my face, I received quite a few remarks from the people sitting next to me: “Where did you get that from? It smells really good.” I was really happy to share with them the name of this restaurant, Mamu Thai. Many of them told me that they would go to this restaurant next time. The Thai Fried Rice I had that day was, no doubt, the best fried rice I have ever tasted. When I go next time, I’ll definitely shoot for another order of the fried rice and a nice little dessert called Roti with Condensed Milk and Sugar.
Mamu Thai Restaurant is located at 3602 36th Ave., Astoria, NY 11106. It is open 7 days a week from 12:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and its phone number is 718-707-0407.