Mike’s Original

Gina Hahn

Mike’s “Double-Double” cheeseburger went into my mouth. My milk shake sat nearby just waiting to cool me down on a sticky evening. One taste and I was transported back to the Tumble Inn across the street from my high school. The boys wore white t-shirts with a pack of cigarettes - smokers or not - rolled up in a sleeve. The girls had on flared skirts with sweater tops and little triangular scarves around their necks. It was football season, and Elvis was singing about blue suede shoes on the jukebox.

I closed my eyes and savored the juicy beef. Then I tasted the milk shake made with real ice cream and real milk. No soymilk or artificial flavoring found in this shake, just the real thing. Crisp and sweet triple-battered onion rings, and a hot dog with chili, cheese and onions followed. Where’s the baseball game when you need one? It takes two or three hours of work a day to prepare all of the onion rings that this great little corner hamburger place sells in a night. An amazing and enormous fish sandwich was the last thing I thought I could eat, but then Mike brought out a tub of homemade garlic dill pickles.

Michael Mangnanti is a native of New Jersey, and he knows his deli food. He opened Mike’s in December of 2004, and he has a steady crowd of customers from lunch until about 3 a.m. A surprising thirty percent of them are Thai. He produces some of the best crunchy pickles I’ve ever eaten outside of a certain New York City delicatessen. The recipe came from a Jewish deli, and it stops the crowd. But he spent over 30 years in California and knows his hamburgers and hot dogs, too.

Mike’s is a little open-air shop on the corner of Chang Moi and Chaiya Poom that can be identified by a huge bright yellow sign topped with a three dimensional cheeseburger. Bar stools wrap around the corner, and you grab one and order up from the big menu posted on the wall. Then you watch while your order is cooked right in front of you, and your milk shake swirls in the blender. Mike’s uses nothing but soybean oil, and changes the oil in the deep fryers every two or three days. You don’t find that health precaution in many places. Plenty of reading is right on the wall to enjoy while you wait - political cartoons, photographs of famous Thai movie and rock stars who have eaten there, jokes, and funny signs. You can agree or disagree with Mike’s politics, but you will definitely agree that his food is delicious.

Mike Mangnanti is a man who knows his food. A Vietnam veteran wounded in the Tet Offensive, he has owned fourteen restaurants, mostly in the San Diego, California, area. Many served Mexican food as well as hamburgers and hot dogs. The hot dogs served here are made from his personal recipe, and his hamburger meat is a special blend of lean meat and fat that produces the “juicy” in the burger. The chili recipe won the United States Chili Cook-Off three years in a row. He makes a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich that is the closest to the original that you can get without going to Philadelphia. Adding Mexican items to his menu is Mike’s next project. He lived in southern California for a long time, and talks knowledgeably about the finer points of Mexican food.

Sodas start at 25 baht at Mike’s, with Singha going for 45 baht. The World’s Best Triple-Battered Onion Rings sell for 60 baht (Mike is not shy about the quality of his food!). ‘Burgers start at 75 baht and go up to 100 baht for the Double-Double. One onion ring comes with the ‘burgers, sure to prompt you to order more next visit. Hot dogs start at 40 baht, and the award-winning chili with garlic bread is priced at 80 baht. Try the chili fries at 70 baht, a real U.S. ball game specialty.

Mike’s, corner Chang Moi and Chaiya Poom Roads, Muang, Chiang Mai. Open everyday except Monday, noon until 3 a.m.