I’ve been asked to write a new blog series about some amazing restaurants here in Dallas. Crazy, right?! It never really crossed my mind or was something that was on my “to do list” before turning 30! The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the words “restaurant review” is the scene from My Best Friend’s Wedding when Cameron Diaz calls Julia Roberts a “big-haired food critic” – random, yes I know.
I know what you’re thinking, why would I write about restaurants? Those who know me know I’m not an adventurous eater, I don’t know anything about food nor the restaurant business, and I hate watching TV shows about food – all of those combined don’t exactly point in the direction of food critic. Yet, I actually think all of those things are what makes me a great person to write about restaurants! While I won’t be using any fancy cooking terms, I will be writing in a way that anyone and everyone can relate to. I mean how many times have you read a restaurant review and barely understood anything they were talking about? You don’t always want to hear what the professionals are saying. Sometimes you’re curious what the average Joe has to say (“Joe, just call me Joe” – name that movie). I don’t think of myself as “average” per say but you know what I mean. I will be looking at these restaurants from a different perspective than your typical food critic.
I never in my wildest dreams thought I would ever be doing, so here goes my new new adventure! There is something beyond fabulous about this and crazy to think how life can lead you unexpectedly! I’m looking forward to exploring the amazing food world Dallas has to offer and even more excited to share my journey with everyone on this blog!
My first stop was to Malai Kitchen, a wonderful Thai and Vietnamese restaurant in West Village. My G’hubby, Waylon, went along with me for what turned out to me an amazing food adventure! Check out my write up below and let me know what you think!
BTW – I’m still working on a name for my restaurant review series so please let me know if you have any ideas – creative thinking is always welcome!
Malai Kitchen – Thai and Vietnamese
They Had Me at Air Conditioned Patio!
Anyone who lives in Dallas knows the value of a great patio – and Malai Kitchen has one of the best in town! Two words — air conditioning! I was a little skeptical when I first heard that because so many restaurants’ idea of “air conditioning” are those fans with misters on them – thanks but no thanks. I was happily surprised upon my arrival at how lovely the temperature was sitting outside, without pouring sweat dripping down us! Let’s be honest here, no one wants to sweat while they eat! Malai has done a fabulous job of enclosing the patio with clear walls to preserve the feeling of sitting outside but with the comfort of cool air – GENIUS!
With every great patio must come great cocktails and Malai does not disappoint! We sipped on two of their specialty drinks – the Cambodian Daiquiri (Cana Brava Rum, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, Thai Basil, Lime Juice) and the Mango Smash (Maker’s Mark, Brizards Apricot Liqueur, Ripe Mango, Lemon Mint) – both were fabulous!
When checking out the rest of the drink menu something caught my eye – the Singapore Sling – for two! (Original recipe from the Long Bar in Raffles Hotel Singapore, includes Cherry Herring Gin and Pinapple Juice) I couldn’t figure out where I had heard this name before, it was driving me nuts! Waylon looked it up on Google only to discover that it is the official drink of Singapore. Crazy! How does one go about making a drink official?!! (Bethenny Frankel should look into that). While the description says the drink is meant for two, next time I don’t want to share with anyone – it was that good! Yasmin (the owner) told us the story behind the recipe and informed us that Malai uses the original recipe from the early 1900’s. It was perfection!
On my drive home after dinner I figured it out! It was a quote from the movie Cocktail – Tom Cruise’s character said it in one of his bartender speeches “…the Singapore Sling and the dingaling…” haha my movie quote memory sometimes amaze me! Again, random…I know.
On to the food! Malai has a one of a kind version of bread service or chips and salsa – its sticky rice with a roasted eggplant dip. OMG I could eat my weight in this stuff! It was amazeballs! And the presentation was like nothing I had ever seen before! The sticky rice comes wrapped in banana leaves like a neat little package. You pick up pieces of the rice that’s (super) stuck together and dip it in the eggplant – just like you would chips and dip except this is sooo much better and much healthier too! Little did I know that this was just the beginning of the food journey we were about to go on.
Menu Item Musts!
Chicken Wings – (Thai Chili Garlic Glaze, Toasted Sesame Seeds) A little sticky but worth the mess (and they bring you wet napkins to clean your hands- yay!) Yummy with a honey like glaze that melts in your mouth and a presentation within a cute copper pot was a nice added touch!
Spring Rolls – (Broth-Seasoned Shrimp, Rice Noodles, Pickled Bean Sprouts, Herbs) One word: FRESH! The herbs were so fresh that it tasted like it was just out of the garden. Vibrant colors with amazing taste! Not too heavy so it makes for a great appetizer.
Drunken Noodles – (Fresh Jasmine Rice Flat Noodles, Spicy Chopped Tenderloin, Bell Peppers, Thai Basil) With a name like that how could you not love it?! Fabulous presentation and super yummy! Jeremy, our waiter, told us that he eats drunken noodles two to three times a week. And now we know why.
I have to say one of my favorite parts of this entire experience was that I didn’t feel like I was sitting in the middle of West Village. It sounds crazy but for the duration of my visit I felt like I was somewhere else – a true dining experience – loving every minute of it!
Other awesome things to know about Malai:
- Owners Yasmin and Braden Wages (husband and wife) are both under 30 – shout out!
- All specialty cocktails are unique recipes created just for Malai by celebrity mixologist Jason Kosmas – if you don’t know who he is look him up, he’s a big deal
- Almost all dishes on the menu can be prepared vegetarian – all you have to do is ask!
- Malai Ktchen was voted as one of the Top 10 Best New Restaurants this year in D Magazine
Malai in a nutshell: the atmosphere was amazing – why doesn’t every restaurant have air conditioned patios?! – the food was super yummy and very unique – service was top notch (shout out to Jeremy our amazeball waiter!) – and the drinks were fantastic! If I had to pick my top two favorite things about Malai I would say the air conditioned patio and the cocktails! Doesn’t get more Dallas than that!
I’m looking forward to my next visit and trying more fabulous items on the menu! Next time you’re looking for a great place to eat, go visit my friends at Malai – I promise it’s a meal not to be forgotten!
Until next time, what will I do next?!
Follow me on Twitter- @TexasWhoDat