26 May 2008 @ 11:12 AM 

Do you like Vietnamese food?  I do.  I like it a bunch.  I have been a fan of Kim San and Saigon for years.  I was wandering around West Omaha looking for a place to eat.  I had the family in tow and we wanted to try something different.   We drove past what used to be the shell of the old “Cheeseburger Cheeseburger” out on West Center road.  On the building was “O Mai”, hanging on the wall.  My wife looks over at me and says “Oh, hey.  I got a mailer on that place and I wanted to try it.”

Not being one to deny my wife anything and liking Vietnamese food myself, I pulled into the back of the building.  We meandered the wooden walkway in between the two buildings toward the front.  We noticed that there was a crew dismantling the remains of the old “Moe’s” that was recently closed.  Then we looked left into O Mai’s.  We noticed it was empty, save a lone child sitting at a table eating.  We looked at the open sign then looked at each other, wondering if it was really open.  We opened the door and let ourselves in. 
I had been into the place when it was “Cheeseburger Cheeseburger”.  It was the quintessential 50’s, retro-look wannabe.  Now, the gleaming chrome was replaced by earth-tone greens and yellows.  It was elegant and pristine.  It was very clean and nice.  We stood looking around and soon we were seated. 

We ordered appetizers and drinks and waited for a while.  Eventually they came out and brought our appetizers.  It was a little awkward because they didn’t take our order until after we were finished eating our appetizers.  Now…   We had a few kinds of spring rolls and a fried roll of some sort.  There was also squid in the form of a calamari (fried).  Oh my god.  They were so good.  I REALLY loved the Calamari and they had a bbq pork spring roll that was just awesome. 

So after we put in our order for our dinner, we started the long… arduous wait for our food.  I ordered a seafood, tomato, noodle soup (No, I don’t remember which one..  Look at the menu.. Sheesh)  Once of my daughters ordered this noodle dish, the other ordered Pho, and my wife ordered this grilled chicken dish.  The older boy ordered fried rice and the other ordered a seafood pho.   Now, as we sat there, some guy walks in.  We’re sitting at our table, the only people there, and some very large man, walks in, doesn’t wait for anyone to seat him, and takes a slow leisurely stroll around.   Ok, it wasn’t leisurely.  It was freaking creepy!

So this guy takes a seat and the waitress gets him all settled in.  My wife and I actually got shivers from this guy, but we blew it off and went back to our own conversation.    So we waited there. Our food started coming out, one plate at a time.  Me, then two kids, then another…   I mean it REALLY took a long time.  5 of the 6 dishes came out.  Our fried rice was at least 15 to 20 minutes from the first dish coming out.  The waitress tried to play it off, but 15 minutes is 15 minutes.

That being said, and the service being slow… The food blew me away.  My noodles were cooked perfectly, the soup had great flavor and was very much on my radar of flavors.  My wife’s chicken, was so awesome, I wanted to take it and run off with it.  My daughter’s noodle dish was so good.  It was cooked perfectly and the vegetables were cooked but crisp. 

So, back to my soup:  I have had allot of seafood soups from Asian restaurants in my life.  One thing I always had problems with was the randomness of the fish bits, and the funky shrimp.  This time?  The flavors melded together and there wasn’t anything funky in it.  It tasted great and I sucked down the entire bowl.  After that, I turned my attention to all the dishes the kids didn’t finish.  The Pho that my daughter was eating was excellent.   There were a different kind of noodle with her dish that had a great flavor.  The meat in the Pho was tender and flavorful.  My youngest son’s Seafood Pho left me wishing I had a full order of that as well.  So..  That being said… and the service what it was…  I now have to officially rate this place.

Pluses:  The food was fantastic, the best Vietnamese food I have ever had.  Elegant and delicious, and left me wanting more.  The décor was beautiful.  The new chairs really fit with the theme and the place was spotless.   The prices were awesome and you got a great value in each meal.

Minuses:  The service was slow.  Not bad… just ridiculously slow and having your dinner for a family of 6 come out piecemeal was frustrating.

Overall Impression:  This place is a diamond in the rough.  This is one of those well kept secrets of Omaha.  I ask that you take a moment to go in here and eat.  Keep this place open.  You will not be sorry for the experience.  I am hoping they can pull it together and become one of the great restaurants of Omaha.  I plan on going back as many times as I can!

~The Omaha Critic

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 26 May 2008 @ 11:12 AM



Responses to this post » (6 Total)

  1. Jeff says:

    I went based on your recommendation and had a very nice meal. Service was much faster than you described so I think they are improving. Food was fresh and flavorful better than other Vietnamese I have had in Omaha.

  2. Beth says:

    I went based on your recommendation as well and I had a great meal. I had Pho and it was great. The service was normal and they are very nice people.

  3. Sheena says:

    I went based on your recommendation as well and I had an amazing meal. The service was quick and friendly and the food was wonderful.

  4. LOrie says:

    Wow! Just tried this place and loved it! The food is so fresh and very flavorful. Service was quick and very friendly. If you haven’t tried Viet Namese food, you’re really missing out on a great treat.

  5. Diogenes says:

    Is there an address?

  6. Hi Diogenes – good point. We should start putting the addresses in with the post. O Mai is located at 17607 Gold Plaza. This is roughly 176th and Center, in the small shopping center that used to house Cheeburger Cheeburger and Moe’s. Also, there was a TGI Friday’s there, but it’s gone now too. We are hoping this isn’t a trend for all restaurants in the area, because we really enjoyed O Mai.

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