MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. Mana Premmana, owner of Mana-Thai Cuisine in Mount Kisco, describes his food as authentic homemade Thai fare. Spicy red, green and massaman curries and lemongrass are used heavily, along with naturally gluten-free rice noodles and peanut sauce in signature dishes such as pad thai.
My menu is simple, said Premmana, who lives in Katonah. Premmana cooks every dish himself at the six-table dining spot, which is located at 360 N. Bedford Road.
Customers can see Premmana cooking in the background, but he loves to go out on the floor to chat with patrons. I love to talk to people and entertain them, he said.
Premmana, who opened the restaurant with his wife Cheryl in October 2010, said he sees himself as an entertainer after learning to engage customers when he was a bartender in New York City.
Premmana came to the U.S. from Thailand in the '70s at the age of 22 to attend school in Nashville, Tenn. He later moved to New York City, where he worked odd jobs, including stints as a sound manager for an all-girl band and as a bus boy.
In the movies (America) looks like a dream, he said, but Times Square in the 1970s was a dangerous and seedy place.
At the start of his cooking career, Premmana worked as a chef at a Thai restaurant next door to legendary disco Studio 54. He recalled serving Mick Jagger and the rest of the Rolling Stones when they stopped by for a bite after a night at the club.
In the '80s and '90s, Premmana was a partner at Avenue A Sushi on the Lower East side, a popular Japanese disco and sushi bar, but sold the restaurant when business cooled after 9/11.
Premmanas current restaurant is in the spot formerly occupied by Korean/Asian fusion restaurant Myong Gourmet, which moved down the road to 487 Main St.
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