First we had Mai Bistro, now we have Mee Thai. Is there a trend in ego centric eateries?
I’ll leave that discussion to Freud, and I certainly won’t comment on a restaurant whose name is uncomfortably similar to a contemporary hashtag movement.
Let’s just be be straightforward here. Mee Thai is a pleasant little cafe on Lee Road serving simple Thai favorites. If there is one thing that sets Mee Thai apart from other Thai restaurants in the area, it’s that it specifies that it offers the cuisine of the Isan region of Thailand, or Esan, as they spell it here. Frankly, I didn’t spot anything on the menu that wouldn’t be available at other Thai restaurants. And it would have been a good opportunity for a restaurant specializing in Isan cuisine to offer a current local favorite — sticky rice is a staple of that region. That dish is not on the menu.
But that doesn’t mean the food isn’t good. I ordered the Mussaman Curry with beef. The curry, which features a coconut milk base, was appropriately mild, although the pleasant woman running the dining room kept offering condiments that might spice it up. Peanuts, thick slices of onions, flower-cut carrots and square hunks of potatoes were included in the mix. The sauce was wonderful spooned over the timbale of rice that accompanied.
For an appetizer I ordered the Thai Chicken Wings, hoping they were the stuffed version. Alas, they were simply deep-fried drummies and winglets, served with a sticky sweet chili sauce. The only thing that set them apart was the topping of flash-fried basil. They were fine, if a bit cool in the center, but I’d get something else instead next time.
The house salad with its sweet dressing was surprisingly refreshing.
Sadly, you will not be able to sip a Leo, the beer brand popular in Isan, with your meal. That’s because a nearby school and church prevent the sale of alcohol. It’s a restriction that has hampered many a business at this particular address, and one that has led to the closing of more than a few of them. It’s time for this antiquated and puritanical ordinance to be revisited. (This law is also delaying the reopening of a popular Irish pub; more on that soon.)
The decor is simple with touches of peaches and greens. Tabletops have white cloths and decorative runners, all under protective glass. Though the Ides of March approacheth, a Christmas tree still sits atop the counter just inside the front door. There is one television screen and it plays a travelog style video of a young man sampling food in remote areas of Thailand. Odd to have someone describing your food as you eat it.
The two-person staff couldn’t have been more welcoming, helpful, efficient and, ultimately, grateful for the patronage. I don’t think I’ve been thanked for coming quite that many times as I walked from my table to the front door. And I was pleased when the server offered extra rice to go with my leftover curry. That’s always a plus.
Mee Thai is at 1200 Lee Road, Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-802-2323.