Mai's Vietnamese Restaurant: Raising the Bar on Cheap Lunches
Bars on a restaurant's windows = lunch costs less than 10 bucks. It's just a theory, but if a restaurant's cheap-ass owners went for bars over an actual alarm system, there's no way they're gonna charge you an arm and a leg to eat lunch.
I walked into window-barred Mai's and there was a priest munching on a noodle bowl. Probably a good sign. You gotta assume that if Jesus' posse eats here, the food's going to be pretty damned good. And/or the restaurant is conveniently located near a home for wayward boys.
I ordered the curry chicken bowl (chicken, rice noodle, sprouts, lettuce, cilantro and coconut curry sauce). To which my waitress said, "Number?" And I then said, "Oh, 25b." Her: "Spicy?" Me: "Yeah." Her: "Drink?" Me: "Thai iced tea." Her: "Good." And then she vanished.
Meanwhile, 'Bout To Get Krunk Old Lady at the table next to me pops open a bottle of red wine she busted out of her grandma purse. I wonder: 1) Do grandma purses come with a free bottle of wine? 2) How the shit did I not know this place was BYOB? 3) Why did God make priest collars so sexy?
My waitress served my food and vanished again. My kind of server. I much prefer the drop-and-dash to the hovering "How's your food? Oh, you haven't tried it yet? I'll just wait. Is it good? Hahaha, what? You wanna stab your eyes out? Sure, here's a pen!"
My curry chicken bowl was good. Maybe not the best Vietnamese in Dallas, but remember, it's cheap as hell. It was White Boy Spicy: hot enough to make me a little sniffly, but not so spicy that I had to chug 18 waters.
As my curry coma set in, I remembered something: Where the balls is my Thai iced tea? As if he knew exactly what I was thinking, just before I asked about it, a waiter apologized profusely and asked if I'd like it in a to-go cup. Hell yes, that's what I want, you mind-reading Thai iced-tea angel.
The food here was great and the service was my favorite kind: unobtrusive. Bars on the windows theory: confirmed.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.