Review: Mai Thai

Mai ThaiIt’s not often that I’m charmed by a restaurant while I’m in the parking lot, but you have to see Mai Thai to believe it.

This little place, close to Florence Mall, used to be a Long John Silver’s.  Now, it looks like it’s always had some pan-Asian architecture and it’s really quite cute.  It’s a great reuse of an old chain restaurant, and I wish more independents would do the same once chains move out (as they inevitably do).

Mai Thai specializes in Thai food (obviously), and had come highly recommended by Carla and Tom from Hoperatives.  Carla and I have regular lunch dates, and since I wasn’t working the day we chose, she finally dragged me down 75 to try it out.

Mai ThaiWe each ordered very standard Thai dishes.  I went for Pad See Ew and she went for Pad Thai.  I think they’re both good ways to assess a Thai restaurant: start with the basics, and if they’re good, move to curries.  I’ll definitely come back for some curries here.  The pad thai was not too sweet and not too spicy, so a good balance of tamarind, chills and fish sauce.  The pad see ew was great– I am still perfecting the texture in my own version, and really need to figure out which noodles to buy that are a little thicker and wider than the ones I currently use to get this really nice, almost fluffy texture that Mai Thai managed and that I really like.  The sauce was also well balanced, just spicy enough (I ordered a 3) and the dish was full of broccoli and tender chicken.

If you’re not into Thai, they also serve sushi and some Americanized Chinese specialties, but I’d say stick to the Thai.  It can be hard to find non-chain restaurants in Florence (though the ones that I’ve tried are hidden gems!), so add Mai Thai to your potential lunch or dinner choices if you’re in Florence or just in the neighborhood.  It’s a solid choice.

Mai Thai on Urbanspoon

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