04 Mar 2008 @ 1:49 AM 

I have been doing Thai food now for about 4 years.  I have been to most every Thai place in Omaha or at least I think I have.  Well last night, I was driving through a parking lot at 144th and Center streets and spotted “Mai Thai”.  It’s not my normal Thai food haunt, but since “Taste of Thailand” is closed on Sundays, I figured I would give it a spin.  I was in the place back when it was “Chop Stix”.  Then it was cute and quaint, and I think my wife worked with a relative of the owners, so we went there to support their business.  That being said, I don’t know who owns it now.

We walked in and immediately you notice the dining room is small.  The tables are small… this is a tiny place.  We get seated and our waiter came over and took our drink orders and gave us water.  We ordered spring rolls and eggrolls.  After the appetizer order was placed, he came back with our drinks (soda in a can with glasses of ice) and then took our order: Garlic Noodles at a 1, Chicken Pad Thai at a 1, and a Beef Panang curry as hot as you can make it. They had a 1 – 5 star heat scale, I asked for a 7 or 8.  Nobody ever seems to take me seriously when I tell them to burn me and make me cry.  One reason I got from a waitress one time is that if it’s too hot, I will send it back and they will have to waste that food to make me something less spicy.  Most Midwesterners say they can “handle” the heat, but when it comes down to it, they’re pansies.  If you are going to say you can handle the heat, then “hang with the big dogs” and don’t sent it back because you’re a wimp.

Well, enough of my tangent rant on spicy food!  As we sat there, the warm air of the heater blew down on us as the slush fell from the sky.  Our waiter brought out our appetizers and we dug in.  The spring rolls were nice and fat.  Two large rolls, cut in half creating 4 pieces with a chili/peanut infused sauce.  The texture of the spring roll married together well with the zing of the sauce.  It was real good.  Then the egg-roll:  Delicate and small, 4 to an order.  They came with a sweet and sour chili sauce.  Everything was very fresh. 

Soon after we finished our appetizers, our main order came out.  My Panang Curry was very good.  It was a sweet curry with strips of cafir leaf, beef, and red and green bell peppers.  The presentation was an effective attempt at making the food look elegant.  I have 2 things about the dish I didn’t like.  It wasn’t hot enough.  I specifically asked for it to make me cry.  It was warm and had great flavor however.  The other thing I din’t like about it was that the cafir leaf strips.  They should have left the leaf whole.  The texture of the leaf was too hard for the rest of the dish.  If it was left whole, I could have avoided it.  I use cafir leaf myself in my cooking.  It’s easy enough to do. 

I am happy to say that I actually loved my daughter’s Pad Thai, as mild as it was more than my curry.  The flavor was incredible.  It wasn’t drenched in ketchup, but relied on other flavors to carry the dish.  The presentation was pleasing, but wasn’t over-crowded with colors. 

We didn’t do dessert… I was to full from finishing off my plate and my daughter’s as well.  This is a place I would recommend to anyone wanting Thai food and I will definitely make this a regular stop.

Pluses: Great food, intimate atmosphere, fantastic service.

Minuses: Man, when I say hot, hurt me! Canned soda.

Overall impression:  I think that the place had a great feel.  It was small and there was tons of to-go business.  I liked it.  I think they can improve a little, but for what they are trying to accomplish, I think they are doing well.  I think this place is a keeper.

~The Omaha Critic

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 04 Mar 2008 @ 01:49 AM

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