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Manhattan Vietnamese

O Mai, new Chelsea Vietnamese

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O Mai, new Chelsea Vietnamese

Iron Frank | Oct 1, 2002 01:34 AM

I had dinner tonight at O Mai a new restaurant from the Nam/Cyclo gang. The place is upscale(haven't been to the sister restaurants for comparison) westernized Vietnamese cuisine with some silly overzealously Western servers .

The entrees weren't that appealing to me (priced around $11-17) so we went with all appetizers and a couple of noodle dishes. The Green Papaya salad with aromatic beef had good flavor but was a bit too sweet. I loved nibbling on the dried bits of beef and it was a solid version of the dish though a bit tamer than other versions I've had.

Summer rice rolls with lemongrass beef were tiny but really delicious. The spicy, roasted peanut dipping sauce was key.

Beef Pho with oxtail broth was very good. Full figured broth with meat that was tender. I'm not a Pho expert but I think some fresh chopped chilis would have improved it a bit. I added the hoisin, chili sauce, mint, and accompanying lime wedge and it made a nice rounded flavor but I always like the added kick of chili's without all the vinegar of hot sauce.

BBQ pork with roasted peanuts and vermicelli was presented as a ramekin generously filled with sweet and smokey pork, a pile of rice noodles, and a small salad. Great flavor.

The loser of the night was the coconut shrimp crepe(ban Xeo). Totally bland. You know your in trouble when bean sprouts are the only flavor in a dish with a dozen ingredients. Shrimp and another anonymous protein pretended to not be on the plate and contributed nothing. Coconut was no where to be found either.

I'm sure you could do better for less at other Vietnamese places and not be sardined into the small tables amongst the too fabulous for their own good crowd. The neighborhood doesn't have that many great restaurants so it is one more solid option. Nothing was bad but still for fifty dollars without drinks or entrees I think more exciting meals can be found.

enjoy!
Frank

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