Yesterday I went to Mai House in Tribeca. I didn't know what to expect, but I had a lovely experience.
We got there at 7, and the place was pretty empty. The entryway is full of little two-top tables near the bar (the restaurant is very spacious) all empty, and the tables were perhaps 1/4 occupied. The kitchen is semi-open. There is a decent amount of spacing between tables and there are circular booths all around the outside wall (good for groups.)
The drink and cocktail menu is varied and interesting. I ended up enjoying a Buddha's Eye: Tanqueray 10, honeydew juice and basil. an exquisite concoction! sake, wine and Asian beers are all available.
shrimp and banana crackers were brought to the table. these were eh.
Appetizers are in the 9-12 range and main courses run from 15-30 (most are in the low to mid 20s.) I had the quaiil with lime and sticky rice. delicious and a generous portion of little quail legs with sticky rice studded with chinese sausage. one of my dining companions had a basic salad but the dressing was unusually sharp and delicious. I was very tempted by the clams steamed in 33 beer and the lemongrass lamb skewers with anchovy sauce. next time.
For my main course, I had the laxsa, a bowl of curry with springy shrimp noodles and shrimp, topped with one ginormous shrimp and lemongrass. I was warned that this was spicy but it really wasn't. It was tasty but soupier than expected. I preferred the short ribs, a huge heap of spiced slivers of short ribs, a generous portion and so delicious. the short ribs were in slices, so easier to eat with chopsticks. (forks and knives were only brought on request.)
For dessert I had the three ice creams: black sesame, ginger and cinnamon. of these, ginger was the standout.
by the time we left (9ish) every table was full and people were sitting at the bar tables.
I recommend Mai House. The menu is appealing and the food is very tasty and often great. Prices are not bad. It is roomy, so if you reserve you could likely get a large group in there.
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