The Early Word: MaiThai
MaiThai is a new addition to Brooklyn's Chinatown, which runs down 8th Avenue from about 40th to 60th Streets. As far as I know, it's the first Thai place in the neighborhood, and it's family-owned and run. The building has been totally redone, so the restaurant is quite bit sleeker than it's neighbors, with an outdoor patio and lots of floor-to-ceiling windows.
I was hoping to discover the next Sripraphai—that was not happening. But MaiThai definitely shows promise, deploying vivid sweet-sour-salty flavors.
We started with som tum, green papaya salad. Strewn with baby dried shrimp and doused in a fish sauce-lime-chile dressing, it was very tasty and properly made (not under-spiced for non-Thais), but nothing you haven't had before.
Next we had grilled pork with dark soy-chile-shallot dipping sauce (pictured above).
Above, crispy pork with basil and chiles. This is basically deep-fried nuggets of pork belly. Sounds good, but it's actually a bit much. Plus, the crispy crust often yielded to a bite of funky pork fat, without any meat. Good for a couple bites, and not as good after that. But the sauce was delicious, with a large quantity of basil.
Above, spicy catfish with bamboo shoots and eggplant. The servers originally brought us the wrong dish before bringing this one. (I think they might be the teenage sons of the owners, and they seem less than pleased about working at the restaurant.) So they rushed to get the catfish out, and the eggplant was nearly raw and crunchy as a result. The fish bits were tiny, most the size of a quarter, and full of bones, making it difficult to eat. The sauce, though, was fantastic, with a slow, lingering burn.
MaiThai 4618 8th Ave, Brooklyn (718) 438-3413
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