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Lunch At Mama Thai

August 24, 2017
by the gentle author

Raj Chawla (centre) and his team at Mama Thai

Mama Thai on the corner of Toynbee St and Brune St, just fifty yards from Christ Church, has long been one of my favourite lunch spots. Thus it was with great sadness in 2015 I reported the death of chef Pam Chawla who had run this beloved establishment with her husband Raj since 1991.

Two years later, I am delighted to announce that, under the continuing supervision of Raj, there are new chefs at Mama Thai and the standard of fresh food prepared daily is as high as it has ever been. I know of nowhere else in Spitalfields where you can find such a reliably wholesome lunch for just five pounds. In face of a disappointing proliferation of chain outlets around the Spitalfields Market offering fast pre-prepared food, it is heartening to return to an old haunt and find it reinvigorated with new life.

At least once a week you will find me here tucking in to a tasty plate of vegetables and rice. In my opinion, it is the ideal healthy lunch. I always have the same thing and I am never disappointed by its reliable high quality. Sometimes, Abdus Samad Ajad, the chef who does the serving, asks me which vegetables I should like from the seasonal selection they have cooked that day and my reply is always the same, ‘You decide!’

Spinach is one of my favourites and the texture is very important, it should not be overcooked and turn to slush. At Mama Thai, head chef Mohammed Shofique Miah understands this and his spinach is always chewy and freshly cooked. I cannot to pretend to enjoy lentils on the whole, but here they are cooked to such a gentle consistency and so subtly spiced that they are delicious. Similarly, the pumpkin accompanied by ground coconut is another favourite of mine.

Cooking vegetables well is the test of any chef and it is an unexpected delight to discover real cooking in this cosy corner cafe where no dish costs more than five pounds. Among all the junk food and over-hyped pretentious places, Mama Thai is Spitalfields’ best kept culinary secret and I do recommend you seek it out. Raj Chawla is waiting to welcome you in person.

Chef Mohammed Shofique Miah

Hajera Begum prepares all the vegetables freshly for the chefs during service

Mohammed with his Deputy Chef Abdus Samad Ajad

The kitchen team

Raj Chawla has run Mama Thai in Spitalfields since 1991

Photographs copyright © Sarah Ainslie

You may also like to read my earlier story about Mama Thai from 2010

Mama Thai, The Noodles of Spitalfields

10 Responses leave one →
  1. August 24, 2017

    My mouth is watering just imagining all those tastes….Valerie

  2. August 24, 2017

    I will be going there asap, thanks GA and Mama Thai, looking forward to it very much

  3. August 24, 2017

    New chef new beginning perhaps new menu’s ?are they changing or is just tweaks, here on their curry & noodle dishes etc. Got to keep looking fresh all-round for a sometimes fickle public. I am sure Raj has a strong loyal customer base including GA, 1991 and all that. It is said a restaurant is only as good as the staff who bring their expertise, loyalty and love, I agree sheer dedication aplenty is here at Mama Thai – keep saying your prayers on site every day. Poet John – PS good food keeps us going its here at No.10 you can start your big food adventure if you are in town, take note American cousins.

  4. Milo Bell permalink
    August 24, 2017

    Oh for crying out loud. I HAVE to go there.

  5. Annelise Goodsir permalink
    August 24, 2017

    Can’t wait to go here now! Thank you for the recommendation

  6. August 24, 2017

    I can confirm this is a great place to eat. Long may they trade! Fab photos from Sarah.

  7. Edward permalink
    February 27, 2020

    Sad to go there yesterday snd it was closed down. Have been going recovery for last 20 years. Does anyone know if they moved to new location?

  8. Roger permalink
    August 11, 2020

    Same here. Very long time customer since the market days. Is this now retirement or is there a new shop?

  9. Sandy permalink
    September 29, 2021

    Is it gone forever???? Nooooooooooooooo

  10. Sandy permalink
    September 29, 2021

    A sad ending to a lovely couple, but so happy they are together again in another place, no doubt cooking some lovely meals.

    Good Evening Sandy

    I am very sorry to report that MAMA THAI is no more that Raj Chawla died last year.

    With deep regrets,

    I am your loyal servant,

    The Gentle Author


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