Mai Thai

Written by on October 30, 2011 in I Eat America, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

( – Georgetown neighborhood, Washington, DC

How I heard of this place: I was first introduced to Mai Thai by my new friend, Sam, on a recent visit from my old friend Niky to Washington, DC and our meet-up for a late lunch in Georgetown.

Type of cuisine: “In a city that caters to the most sophisticated diners in the world, no Thai restaurant commands more respect than Mai Thai. What’s more, this Georgetown location is no exception. The warm atmosphere, attentive service, and top-shelf spirits are matched only by the fine wines and beers, creative cocktails, and above all else – the fresh, contemporary interpretations of Thai cuisine.” Their website further boasts, “We welcome you to explore authentic Thai cuisine. At Mai Thai Restaurant, we are bringing the most out of Thailand to you in the heart of Georgetown, Washington, DC.

Ambiance: “Upon entering Mai Thai, guests are instantly embraced by the casual elegance of the spacious dining rooms, expansive bar, stylish lounge, and lavish Thai objets d’art. You’ll find that the staff and management are committed to providing a memorable guest experience each and every time a patron chooses Mai Thai. To that end, the friendly foodservers guide patrons knowledgeably on their journey through gourmet Thai gastronomy. Mai Thai has something for everyone to enjoy seven day a week, featuring lunch, dinner, a full-service bar, and stellar Happy Hour specials..” The Mai Thai website, despite endearing grammatical and punctuation errors, perfectly describes the casual elegance of the space. Situated just one block up Wisconson Avenue, parallel to the bustling district of shopping and dining known as M Street, the restaurant welcomes patrons through solid, black-framed floor-to-ceiling windows and doors, letting in much natural light. At the front entrance, a bright orange wall embraces you, as it leads back to an elegant dining area. Thick, dark, wooden tables are set with rounded-square-shaped plates, napkins swaddling silverware and wine glasses at the ready. In this room, red leather, cushioned and backed chairs rest up against one side of the table, while while the red satin booth seats with darker, maroon/rust-colored dandelion heads are set against a grey-green toned, slate-textured wall resembling a large shadow box frame. The inside of the shadow box, an orange painted gallery of round, brass and copper vases, accentuated by the recessed lights atop. A base of tiger lilies peaking the royalty of the orange scape. At the back of the room, a carved, wooden, room divider beautifully and artfully covers the back floor-to ceiling windows, hosting heat lamps. To the left of the front door, a bright blue bar counter awaits, empty, matching red leather backed bar seating, with metal stands and footrests. The brightly painted green pillar forces the eyes to work upwards, towards the geometric ceiling in pale lavendar hues, and rounded orange area with track lighting at the sushi bar. The beverages on shelves at the bar, so perfectly organized and artfully presented entice the eye, while the flat-screen television with the latest futbol match distract from the whimsical elegance of the establishment. The thick, brown, wooden tables on this side of the restaurant are joined by modern-retro round-bottomed chairs in wood with leather-bound cushions and metal legs. Gazing out of the windows towards the quaint Georgetown residental neighborhood, large brick pillars create a sense of coziness and warmth in this sleek, vibrant and modern escape.

What I ordered: Trying to catch up with Niky, and without a lot of time to prepare my order, adequately perusing the extensive menu, I was excited about the three-star (chili) Ka Pow ($9.95), and was recommended it by our server, who said it is one of their most popular dishes. My choice of chicken in the Ka Pow was sauteed with red and green bell peppers and fresh Thai basil leaves in a spicy chili garlic sauce, and served with separate a ball of rice.

Mai Thai Recommendation

Chris selected the Lad Na ($9.95) with chicken, sauteed with Chinese broccoli in a light black bean gravy sauce over pan-fried wide rice “noodle“.

Lad Na

Niky’s two-star Red Curry ($9.95) also came with chicken (her choice), red coconut curry with eggplant, bamboo shoots, string beans, bell peppers and basil leaves, a side of rice. We had one order off of the House Specials list, for Masaman Curry ($16.95), tender beef slowly cooked in creamy coconut red curry with onions, potatoes and peanuts, and served with a ball of rice. The remaining three of my dining companions each selected the three-star Drunken Noodle ($9.95 each) with their choice of chicken, sauteed with wide rice noodles, onions, tomatoes, basil leaves and sweet peppers in a spicy garlic sauce. To start, we were each offered a small bowl of Tom Yum soup ($5.95 off of the Soups menu) prepared with chicken, lemongrass, fresh mushrooms, cilantro, scallions, galangal, kaffir-lime leaves and Thai spices. When we saw two diners at the end of the table profusely enjoying their beautiful glasses of Thai iced tea ($2.95 each), three more of us could not resist, and ordered our own.

What I loved: The Thai iced tea was a big hit! Not only to mute the spiciness of the first course (soup), but also as a sweet end to our meals. Of the three dishes I sampled (Red Curry, Lad Na and Ka Pow), I most enjoyed my own Ka Pow for its abudance of flavor and spice. Niky’s red curry was a pleasant, creamy reprieve and Chris’s Lad Na offered a sweet respite to my tingling taste buds.

Why I loved it: The large portions of good food, the ability to accommodate larger parties for us to enjoy the company of friends, old and new, and the friendly and quick service. While it may not have matched the authenticity of food I sampled in Thailand (namely the Americanized version of “spicy”), it was an experience worth repeating, and sampling more of Mai Thai’s menu options.

Cost: Average ($10-$20 per family-style served entree)

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