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Mala Noodles aims to fill cultural gap in Thayer restaurant scene

Customers discuss importance of cultural authenticity, representation on Thayer St.

<p>Mala Noodles offers self-serve noodles, soups and stir fries that feature Mala seasoning.</p>

Mala Noodles offers self-serve noodles, soups and stir fries that feature Mala seasoning.

This past weekend, Mala Noodles held a block party–style grand opening with b-boy dance performances, art displays, lion dancing and a DJ. Several Brown student groups participated in the festivities, celebrating the new dining experience, ingredients and culture that the restaurant aims to bring to Thayer Street.

Mala Noodles has had an ongoing soft opening since mid-June, The Herald previously reported. But Owner TK Quan hoped that the grand opening would attract an even wider audience and encourage more College Hill residents to try the new restaurant’s offerings. 

“We (wanted to) bring more students and neighbors to (the) grand opening and let people know we are here on Thayer,” he said.

While Mala Noodles emphasizes its self-service model, the restaurant also had smaller portions of premade dishes available during the grand opening in hopes of letting customers taste the wide range of food served by the restaurant.

Johanna Leang ’26 and Patcha Chanprakone ’26, two customers who attended the grand opening, said they were highly anticipating the event. “We were planning on coming to Mala (Noodles) ever since it first opened” and the event seemed like the best time to go, Leang said. 

“Mala (and) Asian food in general is our favorite kind of food,” Chanprakone explained. “We all love spicy food.” 

Leang added that while there are a lot of restaurants on Thayer that advertise Asian cuisine, “there’s not many (authentic) Asian food places,” which is why she was excited to try Mala Noodles.

Chanprakone said that restaurants will often Americanize cultural cuisine when it comes to the ingredients, flavors and dishes served, “which is totally their choice.” But she would appreciate more restaurants like Mala Noodles “so that others have an (accurate) perception” of the culture’s cuisine.

Quan said that the community response to the grand opening was largely positive, with the line of customers extending to the intersection of Thayer and Waterman Street. The “students and neighbors are very nice … (and) most people like the food and concept,” he said.  

Quan hopes that customers will be encouraged to try something new and that he can give “the happy” to customers through Mala Noodles’s offerings.

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Avani Ghosh

Avani Ghosh is a Metro Editor covering politics & justice and community & activism. She is a sophomore from Ohio studying Health & Human Biology and International & Public Affairs. She is an avid earl grey enthusiast and can be found making tea in her free time.



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