Ruammit Thai Restaurant
Ruammit Thai Restaurant on Nostrand
Our stretch of Nostrand Avenue is abundant with delicious day-time and take-out food options, but there are just a few spots set up for a sit-down dinner. Ruammit Thai is one. A narrow, cozy restaurant, customers enter to find a small counter adorned with multi-colored lights and a few tables. What ensures the inviting atmosphere however, is the winning hospitality of Jalen Lucky and Ben Voraragasa.
The couple opened Ruammit almost two years ago, in the summer of 2017. Both had extensive cooking and hospitality experience. Ben’s family owned a Thai restaurant in Westchester for 20 years and he went on to study at the French Culinary Institute, training with French and Italian pasta chefs for four years. He built his career cooking for big-name hotels and catering companies in Manhattan. Though he loved to cook, Ben lamented not being able to interact with his customers. Jalen, on the other hand learned to cook with her grandmother in Thailand, where she was born and raised. After moving to New York, she worked as a bar tender. Jaylen reflected that they both loved to cook so they thought “why not open a restaurant?”
Jaylen and Ben chose the location because they wanted a very small location to start, with lots of foot traffic. Jaylen, who Ben described as very handy, poured the concrete in the basement and built the bar herself. They also crafted their own tables. But most important to them both is food above all else. Rather than using a middleman to source produce, they shop and buy ingredients at the start of each day in Queens, where they live. This way, they can make sure to only serve what is fresh. While many of the dishes on the menu will be familiar to customers, they likely have a unique aspect or a different spice depending on what was available. Additionally, Ben and Jaylen use the specials menu to experiment with new dishes.
Ruammit is, to my knowledge, the only Thai restaurant nearby. This can be good for business but can also pose a challenge as locals have to learn to incorporate Thai into their routines. This is an extra challenge given the fact that many people don’t even know Ruammit exists! For now, the restaurant gets much of their business from delivery orders, but as they become more of a neighborhood staple, Ben and Jaylen hope that more and more diners will come and sit down for dinner. Given that all the ingredients are fresh and that the meals are cooked on the spot with nothing pre-cooked, eating in the restaurant is certainly the best way to experience the delicious food at its best.
Next time you’re looking for a sit-down dinner, stop by Ruammit Thai and say hi to Ben and Jaylen. When I visited, I had the pleasure of trying many dishes, all of which were fresh and flavorful. I was particularly blown away by the fresh summer roles for an appetizer, unlike any I have ordered before with a dumpling casing and savory, tangy sauce as well as the mango sticky rice for dessert which tastes of fresh coconut and has a perfect texture. Most of all however, the kindness and warmth of Jaylen and Ben’s service made me and all the customers feel excited to return soon.
– Casey Griffin