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“Nothing Special”
Review of Mai Thai

Mai Thai
Ranked #44 of 236 Restaurants in Prince George
Cuisines: Thai
Dining options: Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Reviewed March 10, 2013

Stopped here to try some Pad Thai and spring rolls. It was average at best. The spring rolls were very very hard to eat, almost overcooked, was at risk of breaking a tooth, trying to get through it..

The Pad Thai was ok, I was not that impressed that I needed to spice it myself, as it is served at a zero heat rating..The entree was good though overall, I did clean my plate. I would eat here again, but I would probably look for other options though first.

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Thank Dwaynev
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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40 - 44 of 61 reviews

Reviewed March 1, 2013

Love their Thai Green Curry and the Tom Kah Soup. They have great lunch specials, $10 for the soup of the day or salad and your choice of entree. I love their Green Curry so have not tried much else besides that....why mess with a good thing? Service is good but we try to hit before the noon hour rush so are able to eat and get back to work on a one hour lunch.

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Thank newbie_in_BC5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 27, 2013

Good selection on the menu, reasonable prices. Gets busy at lunch, so not good for a lunch on a work schedule. Also a bit of a language barrier with the staff, but they are patient enough to work through it!

Thank luvtotravel_123456
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 7, 2012

Let’s go through the list. Malaysian? Check. Japanese? Check. Vietnamese, Chinese? Check, Ch…actually…

Oddly, I haven’t taken in a Chinese restaurant yet as part of this blog. You think I would. It won’t be today, for today I’m bracing myself for Thai, a popular culinary option, but not often seen in restaurants in town. Instead, Thai is reserved for home cooking via premade jars and powdered mélanges necessitating little more than animal or vegetable parts and the proper utensils for cooking. This is in contrast to Indian food, which I have noticed a rise in restaurants and a lack of home cooks willing to try it at home. The extreme of this is sushi, an industry virtually cornered by the essential tools and skills required to do proficiently.

It’s one of the reasons why I avoid making sushi myself.

My little town is blessed to have a Thai restaurant, but is it a true Thai restaurant or a generic Asian location with added peanut sauce? I'm being conducted through this experience by a guide as charming as the meals she is about to order for us. I'm instructed that the first sign of a good Thai restaurant is the prevalence of Thai royalty, often seen in massive gilded frames about the kingdom. I'm warned that unless I find a gaudy gold bordered painting presenting stately Asians with the emotional range of a runway model, I should turn and walk out. The second sign of a good Thai restaurant is its high quotient of elephants. Upon walking into Mai Thai, I'm greeted by two small gold statues and a giant elephant head behind the desk. No, it wasn’t taking orders…although in retrospect that would be a brilliant idea.

I know I’m provoking an attack for claiming so but Thai cuisine has always felt like a blend borrowed from neighboring nations. With four countries surrounding it, your assumptions about Thai food can be considered wholly mistaken depending on which region you're visiting. When presented Thai cuisine in Canada, we're treated to a "greatest hits" collection from these various regions. This is similar to Indian food, where majority of dishes you recognize all derive from a single region a tenth the size of the country. This results in confusion about what is accepted as tradition. I was once criticized for using coconut milk in an Indian dish by a friend that claimed Indian dishes don't use it (he should tell the entire west coast of India that).

With Thailand, its cuisine may appear to the cursory examiner as derivatives of Indian, Chinese, and Vietnamese dishes. However, this is mostly due to the lack of Cambodian, Burmese and Malaysian restaurants in North America. We do happen to have a Malaysian restaurant in town (previously reviewed), though I found it imitative of westernized Chinese food (which I never could find while I was China). I see these associations reflected in Thai mythology as much as in their food. For those that don’t believe me, I can show you a picture of a statue of a Buddha riding a four-headed nāga.

To enforce the argument that Thai food runs the risk of being confusing, the yellow curry Mai Thai offers is nearly identical to its Indian cousin. The red curry eventually ordered is made from coconut milk while the pho we also get uses lemon juice. These two distinct bases originate from two different regions in Thailand, yet here they are side-by-side. With the pho, I'm served a delicious but perilous minefield sprinkled by inedible wheatgrass and leaves. Along with the pho is ordered something known only…as larb.

I should first explain how I discovering larb. The menu lists a variety of salads, though only two have the name "salad" in them. The others are listed with a variety of titles, all seemingly derived from the same six single-syllable words, kaow, pak, nam, pick, pow, and tom. One has as many as four of these. Then, alone at the top, is a single word…larb. It stands out. Larb is a popular meat salad prevalent in Thailand and Laos, served with a side of lettuce. Its flavor and texture is unique and enjoyable. You think after soup and larb (also called larp, to my friends’ enjoyment), we would be done.

The mains arrive, including red curry with a side of rice shaped like the bowl I would rather have it in. The red curry is more like curry soup, with chicken and various spices waddling in a loose coconut sauce. I am struck again by the practice of charging an extra $2.50 for rice; that's markup. It wasn’t even that much rice, not even close to match the amount of curry in the bowl. It’s important to know that I brought home a substantial amount of leftovers, mostly red curry. The larb was picked clean.

Although I was warned that Mai Thai had very slow service, it didn’t appear the case this evening. The final price was considerable and reminded me a lot of Karahi King. With the tip, the total meal came to a fraction over $60. Granted, this did include four plates of food. I would wager to expect a lunch for one to cost a little over $20.

Mai Thai doesn’t feel fake or rushed. It feels as though you are eating real Thai food, not a western translation like so many other Asian restaurants. Sometimes I get upset at the pressure we lay on restaurants, and the assumptions those restaurants make about the food we want. It’s a travesty in a town this big, with nearly a dozen Chinese restaurants in town, that none of them offers traditional Chinese food. Only one offers dim sum, and that dim sum being an embarrassing selection of shipped frozen premade dumplings and buns you can get cheaper from a local grocer. With Mai Thai, you get the impression that you're eating something taken directly from traditional recipes. Nothing feels adapted or sanitized for western consumption. I know this may not be entirely true considering my lack of expertise in Thai cuisine. Regardless, Mai Thai is the best we can hope for and it's far better than we expect.

Food: 4/5
Service: 3/5
Presentation: 5/5
Value: 3/5
Recommendation: 4/5

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
2  Thank PrinceGastronome
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 3, 2012

The food was prepared in a traditional manner. All six of our party tried something different with the thought of trying all the dishes. It ended up that we had to order more as no one would trade as the food was that good. Ask your waiter and rely on their advice. Excellent.

Thank walter c
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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