By Charles Chandler
One of the great things about summertime road trips is finding and trying new eateries. Mary’s Asian Cuisine is one of our recent tasty finds that is worth the drive from wherever.
Mary’s is hard to miss, it is a yellow (color not to be found in nature) food trailer located on HWY 31 in Beulah, Michigan, population 342. Owner, Mary Ramsey is a treasure herself and has a delightful story to tell.
Mary was born in the Philippines, and grew up in Singapore. A close friend introduced her to Mr. James Ramsey from around Beulah Michigan. Soon they were married and as with all marriages, compromises had to be made. It appears that Mr. Michigander Ramsey could not deal with the heat and humidity of Singapore. Mary, husband James and her eclectic recipes soon arrived in Beulah where she began serving up her wide ranging and crazy good dishes. One of the customers waiting for his food mentioned that the Ramsey’s began their business by serving food to hungry snowmobilers as they flew along the local winter trails.
Mary’s’ menu items represent the places she has lived; there are Michigan steak sandwiches with sweet potato fries, marinated adobo and tocino pork from the Philippines, and traditional Chinese dishes like asian tacos, spring rolls, stir-fry, sesame chicken, rice noodle bowls and fried rice. Mary is quick to tell you that her spices and rice noodles are authentic and ordered from the old country.
Dianne chose the asian tacos, a fusion dish to be sure, three to the order, starting with soft shell tortillas filled with yellow rice, tocino pork, pico de gallo and two kinds of cheese. The melt in your mouth tocino pork is surprisingly sweet, the pico de gallo provides the delightful crunch, add in a little complementing heat and with the yellow rice the dish satisfies superbly. This is a light but filling dish so three is a plenty unless you have teenagers that have been water skiing all day on nearby Crystal Lake.
I asked Mary what she suggested and that was a big mistake, “you want combo, you big man, you want big man meal.” This belly buster was ok if you were a 20-year-old lumberjack or construction worker. It consisted of a huge helping of sesame chicken, adobo pork, and bacon fried rice with a healthy layer of scrambled eggs. We paired our orders with a side of fried sweet potatoes and a pint of fresh squeezed lemonade for each.
The service here is fast and friendly and Mary treats one and all like they are special members of her family. We sat at one of the picnic tables enjoying Mary’s unique Asian Cuisine and watched the steady flow of customers. One of our favorites was the man who arrived in his pajamas. Another interesting customer was wearing a tee shirt that read “Traverse City Fire Department.” We imagined that either he drove down from Traverse or he lived in one of the lakeside homes and had a bunch of friends stops by unannounced because he brought a cardboard box to haul his multiple orders back to the car.
Our meal at Mary’s Asian Cuisine was like our wonderful Michigan summers, over way too soon, so with our take home boxes that should provide leftover for at least two more meals, we were on the road again.
If you find yourself on M 31 passing through Beulah, Michigan, population 342, please pull into that crazy little yellow trailer on the right and sample Mary’s unique Asian Cuisine, you won’t regret it. Smiling Mary is open from the last week in April through the end of October and open daily, Monday- Saturday from 1130AM to 7:30 PM.
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