Last night I went with a group of friends to Mai House, the new Drew Nieporent restaurant in Tribeca. We had a fantastic experience.
The space is really beautiful, and unlike so many places these days, the tables are spaced far enough apart so you never feel cramped. Still, they were close enough together to pick up the energy from the room. The restaurant was kind of loud, but in an energetic way, rather than a deafening way.
The food was delicious – very flavorful and fresh. If you want to satisfy your spicy side, Mai House is not for you. I love spicy food and would describe this food as “flavorful,” rather than spicy. The food is upscale Vietnamese.
We had three appetizers to start – shrimp spring rolls, mushroom rolls, and bbq quail. The shrimp spring rolls were the only thing we ordered that disappointed – they were rather bland. The mushroom rolls were very tasty, but nothing special – similar to what you can get at other Vietnamese restaurants. We loved the bbq quail – it was unique, perfectly crispy, and tasty.
For our entrees we had the whole red snapper, short ribs, steamed black cod, House Lacxa, and crab fried rice. The whole red snapper was beautifully presented. It’s already filleted and cut-up so people can share, presented inside the fried carcass (sounds gross, but actually beautiful.) It was extremely fresh and delicious. The short ribs were perfectly cooked and tasty. The steamed black cod was fresh, but frankly a bit bland if you like spice. The House Lacxa was incredibly flavorful – the perfect blend of curry and coconut, with no one flavor overwhelming the others. We LOVED it. The waiter warned us it was “very spicy,” but it really wasn’t – I would call it medium spice. The crab fried rice was also very unique and tasty, which was a good accompaniment.
A word on the portions – everything at Mai House is served family style, but the portions are not large enough for two people to share one entrée. Let’s say the portions are substantial, but not China-Grill sized. If you’re a big eater, you may want one to yourself, but we ordered one entrée per person and we had food left over.
The service was friendly, gracious, and attentive. Our one complaint was that it took a very long time for our entrees to arrive.
All in all, I would definitely go back there again. The atmosphere and food make it definitely worth a trip, and the prices are reasonable.