Mai Village St. Paul
Has anyone tried this place? I went there for lunch today after some friends raved about it. I had a beef and shrimp noodle salad and egg rolls. The egg rolls were as good as Quang's. The salad was good, but there were only 2 shrimp. The salad I had at Quang's was better.
Now some frustrations: she didn't refill my water or tea. And she tried to get me to leave an extravagant tip--I had to ask for my change, and then she only brought a 5 back.
I went once. Never went back. Beef 7 ways was really hamburger 5 ways and the ways weren't very different.
It's tough having a mediocre Vietnamese restauraunt in Minneapolis-St. Paul. There's so many good ones to choose from.
I agree with Lisa. This is a St Paul restaurant that has gotten rave reviews in the local paper -this is essentially in the heart of Frogtown, where Asian restaurants are plentiful. Just because it is the first "million-dollar" asian restaurant, I was extremely disappointed - from the service (and server who told us that the first three items we thought of ordering were not "the house's best" - uh-should have been red flag #1), to the actual food itself. A bit overpriced for the food - and it was not that good. We have a saying - there are many ways to create a spicy dish besides using crushed red pepper flakes. Have been to many asian restaurants- never this one again.
As I've told most people who've asked me about the restaurant, you definitely go there for the atmosphere and not the food. The egg roll salad was pretty good, but the pho dissapointing. It's definitely difficult to find a good reason to go there for vietnamese food, when there's better and cheaper places down the street. I am interested in checking out it's dim sum sometime though.
Here's a link to the Mai Village Dim Sum chowdown thread where you can read a lot of people's opinions about the dim sum. I would rate the dim sum at Mai Village very average, except that there aren't a lot of options for dim sum in the Twin Cities (and St. Paul in particular), so I go a little softer on it. It isn't that much farther to drive to Jun Bo, though, so if you're really hankering for dim sum, don't mind an extra 20 minutes in the car, and don't want to wait like you would probably have to if you went to Mandarin Kitchen (Jun Bo is HUGE--I've never had a problem with seating there, and they have wickedly long hours too, they're open until the wee hours of the morning, past my bedtime for sure), I suggest you get over to Jun Bo in Richfield instead. Still not exceptional dim sum, but much better than Mai Village.
I had very good luck my initial visits to Mai Village and on those occasions I stuck to the house specials, mostly beef dishes. I've had good luck with some of their vegetarian dishes, like mock duck, too, although, I'm not super experienced with mock dishes, so I don't know how they hold up to the ideal. My vegetarian friends (who are more concerned about vegetarianism than chowhoundism) have been happy with Mai Village.
I had a disasterously messy cook at your table seafood dish that I don't recommend (don't remember what it was called...)
But, as others have said, the setting is exceptional. I love the koi pond, the carved wood. Mai Village accomodates large groups nicely, too.
Amen. I keep hearing people "rave" about this place but I've found the food mediocre. Yes, the place is beautiful but beautiful isn't a taste sensation!
While I don't think the food is the greatest, it is a fun place. I've gotten the marinated beef where you cook it on the table, and the beef where cook it in a broth and roll it up in the rice paper skins. Both were pretty good, and, I get to cook my own food - hey, wait a minute - what king of restaurant makes you cook your own food? (Bill Murray quote from "Lost in Translation")