Mai restaurant Sonoma County
Terrific recently (4 mos) opened vietnamese restaurant on hwy 116 on Cotati. Have eaten there yesterday and today and really liked it. I'm not an expert on Viet food but those who are liked it very much. Very nice owner, good service, inexpensive.
I was reminded of this spot again at our chowdown last night. It's one of the three Southeast Asian restos in this little shopping center. Remarkably, all three seem to offer a selection of desserts. This is where i'd head for Asian sweets.
Could we get an update on dishes chowhounds recommend here?
re: Melanie Wong
I've been there several times for lunch. First time was within a month of them opening and service was disorganized and slow, but they gave us a free appetizer to help make up for it. The service has improved since, but can still be a bit slow if they're busy (which they often are at lunchtime. I don't remember which item now, but I recall one of my coworkers being told they didn't want to order a specific item since they'd just run out and it would take a while to make it.
The iced coffee with condensed milk (Cafe Sua Da?) is extra good. Better than the other places I've tried in Santa Rosa and RP/Cotati. Probably about equal with the same at Pho Phu Quoc (PPQ) in SF. A lot stronger (but not bitter) than what you usually get. Something I'd only get when it's okay to be up past midnight. When I ordered it the woman who brought it (I think one of the owners) cautioned me to sip it, since it was much stronger tasting than american coffee that us americans gulp.
One item I've never seen on another vietnamese restaurant menu: spring rolls with chinese sausage (Bo Bia). These are good. Full of (smoked?) porky goodness contrasted nicely with the other ingredients. Anybody know if these are more of a northern vietnamese style item?
Other than that, I think I've had a pho, another soup (Hu Tieu), a vermicelli bowl (bun) and a rice plate (Com Suon, Bi, Trung). The pho and the vermicelli bowl I remember being pretty typical (but well done). The soups come in two sizes; get the small unless you're a starving teenager with a bottomless stomach; the small is a full meal and the large is almost twice that size. The other soup had a different kind of noodle that kind of absorbed the flavors of the soup more... The rice plate was listed as something like "pork and fried egg", but actually had a thin pork chop and some shredded BBQ pork and was surprisingly good.
The fish sauce (nuoc mam) based dipping sauce tends to be a little weak, but a little more straight fish sauce from the container on the table fixes that right up. I really like fish sauce, though, so maybe it's just me that thinks it's a little weak.
Since I've only been there for lunch I haven't tried any of the desserts, but looking at the menu now I really want to try the Banh Gan (Egg Coconut Steamed Cake) sometime.
Mai Vietnamese Cuisine
8492 Gravenstein Hwy, Cotati, CA 94931
Thanks a bunch for your rundown, sounds wonderful! Yep, it's hard to find a good cup of cafe sua da with strong flavor but smoothness.
The app that I'd like to try is the lotus root salad. And, of course, the desserts. Between the three restaurants here, we could probably try a dozen Southeast Asian desserts for a chowdown theme.
re: Melanie Wong
I'm terribly fond of their banh xeo. It is a sort of a crepe/dosa thing made with rice flour, tumeric, mung beans and then your choice of pork, shrimp and chicken (I always ask for pork and shrimp). It arrives looking about like a crepe on a plate with lettuce, cucumber,and a carrot and daikon salad. You cut a piece of banh xeo, use a lettuce leaf as a wrapper, sprinkle some salad and roll it up and dip it in the nuoc cham. Delicious!
They are pretty good at pho, although the broth may be a bit weak. They are also quite good at their sea food noodles.
Friendly service, nice room, it really is my Vietnamese place of first resort.