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Restaurant Review: Montein -- Thai food, Thai folks, Thai fun

By Duangjai Samranvedhya

Montien Thai Restaurant and Karaoke

Takeout-delivery

Weekdays: 11:30 a.m. 11 p.m.

Friday, Saturday: 11.30 a.m. 2 p.m.

Sunday: 4:30 p.m. - 2 p.m.

Karaoke 10 p.m. 2 a.m. Friday-Sunday

63 Stuart Street, Boston

Phone: 338-5600

Fax: 338-5348

Many people ask me what the best Thai restaurant in Boston is. My answer varies depending on what a person wants - atmosphere or authenticity of food. Now that Montien reopened two weeks ago after a lengthy closing for renovations, it once again offers just about everything a Thai restaurant should, especially the option between the authentic Thai taste or Thai food as Americans like it.

Montien has always been the gathering place for Thai students in the Boston area. It reappears with a modern look, featuring a bar and karaoke. Just two weeks after the reopening, the place is already packed on Friday night when the karaoke kicks off at 10 p.m. The renovation makes Montien a perfect place for a dinner with a nice atmosphere in the early evening, and a smashing place for karaoke on the late weekend nights.

Ask any Thai student at MIT, except the new ones, of course, and I'd bet every one knows Montien. It's the combination of the authenticity of the food and the comprehensive menu that makes Montien so popular, with the help of karaoke. For the real Thai food, ask for the Thai menu with English descriptions. Try out a few things and you will know the difference between the authentic Thai food and those Asian-fusion foods that equate everything in Thai peanut sauce with Thai food.

The best way to order things from the menu is to take a Thai friend with you. If you have one, take a friend who comes directly from Thailand - you'll have a better chance that your friend can read Thai and knows the dishes. Even if you haven't made friends with any Thai students here, the staff at Montien can guide you through the menu. The owner, Pi Peam, is a nice lady who oversees everyday operations.

If you are familiar with Thai food, try different things, but be sure to ask how the dish is prepared to assure you'll get what you expect. If you are not at all familiar with Thai food, you can either try the English menu, serving American-tasting Thai food, or ask the staff to help you start with some simple dishes.

The menu is divided into several sections: entrees, appetizers, salad, seafood, rice dishes, curry, and noodles. For lunch, try the single dishes of noodles and rice. For appetizers, I like the steamed mussels, fried tofu served with sweet sauce and ground peanuts, shrimp fish cake, and my favorite, the must-try Yum Pla Duk Foo. For an entree, I like fried fish with chili sauce, Pla Rad Prik and soft shell crabs with garlic and pepper. The vegetarian dishes are available from the menu, or you can ask the kitchen to prepare vegetarian dishes.

You can also order drinks from the bar, including Thai iced tea or Thai iced coffee. On weekends, call for reservations and plan the meal to end before 10 p.m., or else the karaoke might ruin your dinner since it's quite loud. Of course, if you enjoy singing, stay for karaoke. Ninety percent of the requested songs will be in Thai, although the song list also has some soft and easy English songs.

Montien delivers to MIT. It might be the only good Thai restaurant that delivers, since others often offer just takeout. Delivery is free when an order exceeds $15.