Malai Thai-Vietnamese Kitchen

Malai Kitchen 1Another restaurant for my #25before25 list!

Two weeks ago, an old friend of mine was in town. I don’t mean old like eighty… I mean old like we were besties when we were two.

Yes, I had a bestie at two.

Carrie and I hadn’t seen each other in over ten years (and a lot changes in ten years!) so we decided to grab a few dinners (and a few desserts!). After taking her to one of my favorites (True Food Kitchen), I decided to switch it up a bit and take her somewhere to which even I hadn’t been before: Malai Thai-Vietnamese Kitchen. And I must say: I was quite pleasantly surprised!

Malai Kitchen 4bCutie in Lilly!

I’ve been on a Moscow Mule kick lately (they’re just so dang good!), so obviously I immediately gravitated towards the Mekong Mule: Effen vodka with ginger beer, muddled cucumber, mint, and Thai basil. Yum! It definitely had its own flavor and zest, while still staying true to the Moscow Mule I’ve come to love.

By comparison, Carrie had the Lemongrass Fizz: Ketel One Citroen, St. Germain, lemongrass syrup, and sparkling wine. She let me sneak a sip (or two) and we both agreed that it was perfectly light, sparkly, and an ideal pairing for some Thai and Vietnamese cuisine (I have a long-standing habit of pairing light drinks with heavy foods: the only time I’ll ever drink Gewurztraminer or Riesling is when I’m chowing down on some Indian food!).

Malai Kitchen 5 Malai Kitchen 6For our appetizer, Carrie and I ordered the Spring Rolls with Seared Tuna (top photo): seared rare ahi tuna, rice noodles, pickled bean sprouts, and herbs – all served with a delicious peanut dipping sauce. The spring rolls were definitely a great choice!

As an extra little surprise, our waiter brought over some sticky rice with – what I believe was – an eggplant dip (bottom photo).

I’m still a little confused on how one eats sticky rice, so I may be a little biased against the dish. While I pretty much stuck to the spring rolls, Carrie dove in to the sticky rice (all the while trying to convince me how delicious it was).

Malai Kitchen 7 Malai Kitchen 8As our mains, we each decided to order different dishes. Carrie went for the Shrimp Pad Thai (top photo): rice noodles with black tiger shrimp, tofu, and peanuts in a tamarind sauce; I chowed on the Chicken and Broccoli Noodles / Pad See Ew (bottom photo): flat noodles with chicken breast, broccoli, and bean sprouts (and extra bean sprouts – yum!) in a sweet soy sauce.

There was nothing left.

My exposure to Thai and Vietnamese foods has been fairly limited since leaving the Northeast (with the exception of Elizabeth Street Cafe in Austin, of course). One becomes spoiled living in New York City and having such ready access to so many different types of [good] food (except Mexican food and BBQ – I stand by my statement that there is nowhere in NYC that can rival a true Texas BBQ joint or TexMex restaurant). Unless Thai or Vietnamese food was placed right in front of me (like at work), I hardly ever ate it the past two years.

I’m so glad to have found a place I can frequent and actually get my hands on some good Thai and Vietnamese foods.

Malai Thai-Vietnamese Kitchen is located in the West Village in Uptown and is open every day for lunch and dinner (times depend on the day of the week), as well as for brunch every Saturday and Sunday, from 11:00AM till 3:00PM. Malai Kitchen also has what seems to be a totally rockin’ happy hour: 1 for $5 or 2 for $9 on appetizers as well as $5 specialty cocktails and wines (and $3 beers) every Monday through Friday, 4:00PM till 7:00PM, in addition to all day Sunday. Check it out!