100 Favorite Dishes

100 Favorite Dishes: Shrimp and Chicken Curry Clay Pot At Mai's Vietnamese Restaurant

As a countdown to the Dallas Observer's "Best of Dallas" 2010, City of Ate is serving up 100 of the favorite dishes we crave, savor and hope to scarf down again soon. These dishes are in no particular order. Some are little known, others celebrated. Some are pricey, others can be eaten on the cheap, but all are delicious to the extreme. Don't hesitate to share your own nominations in the comments. More of the dish's tasty details are after the jump.

No. 58: Shrimp and Chicken Curry Clay Pot At Mai's Vietnamese Restaurant

You know that knee-jerk reaction whenever the waitress drops off your sizzling fajita platter or a hot pasta plate? That urge to reach out and touch it with your bare hand?

She didn't look so tough, you tell yourself. You think, that plate doesn't look so hot.

To be clear, then: Do not touch the sizzling clay pot at Mai's. Last time I went, my waitress didn't even warn me about it -- this is Darwinian stuff. When your food is still bubbling 10 minutes after it landed on your table, you can bet that ceramic receptacle is going to be hot too.

Dig down -- careful of the rim, which is very hot too -- to the rice in the bottom of the pot, and you'll reach a blackened layer caked around the edges that yields with a satisfying crunch. Stir up the rest of the rice like the fruit in the bottom of a yogurt cup. You might want to use an extra-long pair of chopsticks to be safe.

You may think you lead a pretty wild life, but you've never been assaulted by a chunk of cauliflower like you will when you pluck one straight from a bubbling curry clay pot and pop it in your mouth. Each chew unlocks a new ferociously hot cauliflower surface. It is great in the summertime. The cabbage, carrots and broccoli are pretty warm too.

Best of all, though, the sustained heat breathes extra life into the already fine spicy curry sauce and even keeps it from thickening around the pieces of chicken and shrimp.

The clay pot is not so big that you can't in one sitting, but it's worth noting, if you just didn't bring your A-game to the table, Mai's chicken and shrimp curry is great out of the fridge the next morning, too.

Mai's Vietnamese Restaurant
Mon-Fri., 11-3 and 5-9:30, Sat. 11-10

4812 Bryan Street.

No. 100: Oatmeal Pancakes at Legal Grounds
No. 99: Shanghai Buns at Jeng Chi Dumpling House
No. 98: Mashed Tater Parfait at Cowboy Chow
No. 97: Chicken and Waffles at Victor Tango's
No. 96: Colorado Lamb Osso Bucco at Hibiscus
No. 95: Flatbread Pizza at Dish
No. 94: First Chinese Barbecue in Richardson
No. 93: Elotes at Fuel City
No. 92: Summer Platter For Two at Big Shucks
No. 91: Chicken Gizzards at Sushi YamaNo. 90: Bob Armstrong Dip at Matt's Rancho Martinez
No. 89: The Angry Dog at Angry Dog
No. 88: Sliders at Dish
No. 87: Spaghetti Bolognese at Urbano Café 
No. 86: Vietnamese Pork Panini at Lumi Empanada & Dumpling Kitchen
No. 85: Cheese Fries at Snuffers
No. 84: Tres Vasos at Samar
No. 83: Quatro Leches at La Duni
No. 82: Pad Pak at Bangkok City 
No. 81: Brisket Sandwich at Maple and Motor
No. 80: Lunch Express at Dream Cafe
No. 79: Apple Crisp at Salum
No. 78: La Vaca Loca at Good 2 Go
No. 77: Shrimp and Grits at Screen Door
No. 76: Meatball Sub at Jimmy's
No. 75: Baja Chicken at Mattito's
No. 74: Fried Port Salut Cheese at The Porch
No. 73: Lobster Roll at Rex's
No. 72: Fried Green Beans at Local
No. 71: Shaved Ice at May's Ice Cream
No. 70: Shredded Pork Sandwich at Mojitos
No. 69: Tom-Yum-Gai at Bangkok City
No. 68: Paella at La Calle Doce
No. 67: Bacon Cheeseburger at Wingfield's Breakfast and Burgers
No. 66: Original Nachos at Fuzzy's Taco Shop
No. 65: El Aragón at Tortas La Hechizera
No. 64: The Cheeseburger at The Grape
No. 63: Dungeness Crab Dip at Hibiscus
No. 62: Sweetbreads Made Two Ways from Restaurant AVA
No. 61 Asado De Puerco Rojo At Chitos
No. 60: Basil Chicken at Genroku
No. 59: Capricciosa Pizza At Il Cane Rosso Truck