We were at a loose end in Collingwood on a Friday night and, after scoping out the queues at Jimmy Grants and Shop Ramen, decided to finally visit MaMaNee Thai. It had been recommended to us years ago as a decent and cheap Thai option and we were happy to be able to just wander in and grab a table. It's a pretty basic fit-out - cheap looking signage, brown plastic accoutrements and slightly harsh lighting. The kitchen is on display behind the front counter, so you can entertain yourself by watching the chefs in action.
The menu has a dedicated vegetarian section, always reassuring at a Thai place. There's curries, stir-fries and a range of noodle dishes, alongside a few more interesting options. The noodles all have egg in them, but the stir-fries and curries look vegan to me. The rest of the menu goes well beyond the standard Thai options (including a special Southern Thai selection), but I'm not sure how many of them are fish sauce/shrimp paste free. They also have special Thai drinks, including this milky iced coffee ($4) that gave me the kick I needed after a tiring week.
We ordered a couple of mains - starting with the vegetarian Singapore noodles with vegetables, tofu and rice vermicelli noodles ($15.50).
I was a bit disappointed when these appeared - visually they're not particularly appealing. Luckily, they tasted incredible - heavily seasoned with some sort of curry powder and cumin and probably MSG, served with lime slices to provide a bit of tang. They're not particularly spicy, but the restaurant has a tremendous range of sauces so you can tweak the chilli levels yourself.
Our second dish was the incomparably named tofu delicious ('with seasoning sauce topped with sesame seeds and onion', $15.50).
This was excellent as well, big chunks of thickly battered tofu with a sweet and spicy sauce and a nice range of vegetables.
The food at Mamanee was fantastic, with both dishes providing something a bit different from the standard Thai options. The servings were massive as well - we took home enough leftovers for a whole second dinner, after springing 60c for plastic containers. Mamanee seems like the perfect neighbourhood Thai - good food, reasonable prices, friendly service - if only it was in our neighbourhood!
We were tipped off about MaMaNee more than four years ago by commenter Ruth. It's also had positive reviews by MEL: HOT OR NOT, Food-in-Melbourne, Fitzroyalty, hookturns, Lots of Cravings and That Jess Ho and a less positive write-up by Pooh in the kitchen.
324 Smith Street, Collingwood
Accessibility: There's a flat entryway to a reasonably spacious interior. We ordered at the table and paid at a high counter. The toilets are on the same level, gendered and not especially accessible.