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Longtime Stanford eatery Thai Cafe shutters

Uploaded: Jun 14, 2017
Thai Cafe, a decades-long cult favorite eatery on the Stanford University campus, closed this week, Stanford News reported Wednesday.

Owner Mykhanh Bahlman has served Asian food from the window of a space at Building 420 on the Main Quad since 1987. A family emergency forced her to close unexpectedly on Monday, according to Stanford News.

"Her next step is retirement — spending time with her family and being able to sleep in past 3 o’clock in the morning," Stanford News reported.

Bahlman told Stanford News that she "would like to thank the Stanford community for the chance to serve them for the past 30 years."

The no frills, cash-only eatery was popular among students, faculty and staff. The line was reportedly long at lunchtime but moved quickly. Contrary to its name and its owners heritage (Bahlman is Vietnamese), Thai Cafe served a range of Asian dishes like chicken soup, rice noodles, chicken curry and vegetable fried rice. Diners who posted reviews on Yelp describe Thai Cafe as one of the best dining options on campus, churning out "magical" food from a tiny window and providing a "beacon of light in a vast darkness" of quality Asian food on campus.

In a 2014 Stanford Daily story, Bahlman said that "customers come from all over the world and ask for the Thai Cafe," including a professor from Italy who used to frequent the cafe with his wife at least once every summer.

In that same interview, Bahlman said she sought to keep prices low to serve her primary customers: college students. At the time, she hoped to not raise prices past $6 per item.

A Yelper reported in December 2016 that Thai Cafe increased prices to $7 per dish.

"ITS OKAY, I STILL LOVE YOU, THAI WINDOW," Vivian C. wrote. "The portions are the same. The line is still fast. The food is still good. No complaints."

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 +   3 people like this
Posted by Poke Lover, a resident of Mountain View,
on Jun 14, 2017 at 2:21 pm

End of an era! It was an institution for sure. From one my old Stanford buddies who was a math PhD and understandably ate there a lot: "Nooooooooo!! No more Veggie Curry and getting yelled at for not having your order ready fast enough!!!"

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Eric Nee, a resident of Professorville,
on Jun 15, 2017 at 10:42 am

Thai cafe was the best value on campus. Great food at a reasonable price. And the owner was always right there at the window serving customers. She will be missed.

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by mainquad, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jun 16, 2017 at 11:26 am

Very sad to hear. She didn't tell anyone. I hope they can try to replace her with the same style of food and price. Just hope Stanford doesn't put a Coupa or one of their own eatery's.

 +   7 people like this
Posted by Ryan, a resident of Stanford,
on Jun 16, 2017 at 11:39 am

Surely Stanford would be best served by putting in a Coupa. As it is I only have 8 Coupas within a 2 minute walk of my office.

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Saddest, a resident of Stanford,
on Jun 16, 2017 at 12:14 pm


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Farewell to Mykhanh Bahlman, a resident of Midtown,
on Jun 16, 2017 at 2:11 pm

Hope nothing bad happened to her or her family. The Daily story mentioned something had happened to cause her "retirement" decision. She served free chocolate chip cookies at the beginning of the school year, at least this past one when I happened to be there lining up for lunch. She once let me i.o.u because I did not realize I had no cash. She will be missed by many.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Paul, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Jul 13, 2017 at 2:46 pm

I greatly appreciate Mykhanh and her wonderful food. When one of my friends (former Stanford graduate student) was anywhere near the area (including an hour away), he would make time to drive here to enjoy her food. Mykhanh was always kind to me, including letting me have an IOU when I mistakenly forgot my wallet. Peace to you Mykhanh, and to your co-workers and family.

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