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Everything we saw and tasted at Midwest Buddhist Mediation Center's Thai Market


A taste of Thailand returns to Warren with the outdoor market at the Midwest Buddhist Meditation Center, back for a new season. 

Offered just twice a month for a few hours on a Sunday, this family-friendly gathering is becoming a popular — but still relatively low-key — destination for fans of Asian cuisine. It's a chance to sample a variety of Thai and Laotian street food made fresh by members of the community. 

"Our main thing is food," said the center's vice president Lawan Chandruang. She said the vendors have Bangkok street food, cuisine from Laos and this year they have vendors serving food from northern Thailand (think pork cracklings, sticky rice, sausage). "In July we will have more vendors selling a lot of varieties of vegetables, all organic."

When asked what is the one thing someone should try, Chandruang managed to narrow it down two three items: the curry rice (which has many varieties), noodles and desserts. 

Some of my favorites were the pork and sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves, the steamed buns with choice of pork or sweet, yellow custard filling and the flaky puffs stuffed with chicken curry, which traveled well and were still crispy the next day. 

The Thai market has a lot of sweet treats, too, for kids and adults. Flavored juice, coconut gummy candy, crispy rice cakes with sweet syrup, fried bananas and more. 

"Every vendor here, they all have a family recipe ... it's all so good," said one of the MBMC's staff members, Saeng Rhodes. She said the cuisine at the market isn't just a carbon copy of what you'd find at a Thai or Laotian restaurant around town. 

In addition to ready-to-eat snacks and meals, there are also vendors selling their own sauces and spices, which you can use to cook at home. Rhodes says they can even customize them on site, if you want more or less heat. 

When you arrive, I recommend doing a lap around to see what's cooking and what looks the best. It's tempting to get one of everything, which is affordable, but maybe more than you need for the week. Grab a sweet Thai iced coffee or tea (what a perfect Sunday morning drink, especially when it gets hot outside) for $3 and then decide what your next move is. 

Here's what else you need to know about a visit to the Thai Market. 

Bring cash. Most of the vendors are only charging a few dollars for their items and cash is easiest and fastest. 

Go early, the good stuff will sell out quickly. If one of the stalls has a line, go there first, because whatever they're dishing out is likely a favorite and will sell out. Last Sunday there weren't many lines and there was plentiful parking at an adjacent lot. 

Go often, the market will change slightly as the season goes on. Fresh, organic produce becomes more available in the summer and throughout the harvest months. Additional vendors are expected to join the fray as the months go on, too. 

Bring the family. There's room to sit and enjoy the pad Thai, papaya salad, noodle soup, steamed banana cake, strawberry milk, steamed buns and meat skewers. The center has a small playground for kids, and the inside is open if you need to use the restroom (you have to remove your shoes, though). 

The Sunday markets start at 10 a.m. and run until 1 or 2 p.m., but food may sell out before then. The next one is May 22, followed by June 12 and 26, July 17 and 31, Aug. 14 and 28, Sept. 11 and 25, Oct. 9 and 23 and Nov. 6. 

The Midwest Buddhist Meditation Center is at 29750 Ryan, in Warren. Call (586) 573-2666 or visit MBMCmichigan.org. Updates about the market can be found on the center's Facebook page

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mbaetens@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @melodybaetens