Review: Mike Thai - Mesa, AZ (w/ photos!)
- Seth Chadwick Apr 2, 2008 11:29 PM
So, after all my adventures with J. and a variety of friends, I thought it was time to spend some time with Dad who was going through Thai food withdrawal. He was insistent that I find some good or great Thai restaurant that would satiate his desires.
I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but I did decide to take Dad on a long drive out to Mesa to try some place called Mike Thai. I was torn about the name because either there was some underlying twist on the Thai language that I wasn’t getting or the place was named after some guy named Mike (it turned out to be the latter). After completing the drive, we pulled into the nice strip mall that housed Mike Thai and parked right near the entrance.
We both were surprised at how large the place was inside. The bright, red interior was trimmed with flashes of gold and lots of decoration. Accompanying this was soothing music that made us feel like we had entered some wonderful spa. The only thing missing was a spa therapist.
After being seated, Dad and I reviewed the menu and a very kind and soft spoken woman approached our table and took our drink order. We asked for two Diet Cokes ($1.95 each) and our server informed us that they were short staffed for the evening so things were taking a bit of time to come out of the kitchen. That was quite nice of her to mention that, but we decided to continue on because we liked the atmosphere and didn’t have any plans after dinner.
Returning with our drinks, our server took our order. To start, Dad and I agreed to try the Mike Thai Dumplings ($7.95) and two Crispy Spring Rolls ($1.50 each). We were rather hungry and the Chicken Satay ($7.95) sounded good, so we got that as well. For our entrees, Dad got the Mike Thai Rama Chicken ($12.95) and I got the Thai Omelet ($12.95). Our server thanked us profusely for dining with them for the evening.
After about 15 minutes, our appetizers started arriving. The two Crispy Spring Rolls were on a small plate and flanked by grated carrots on one side and a sweet and sour sauce on the other. The rolls were piping hot and we cut them open to let the steam escape. When they had cooled, we both drizzled some of the sauce on them. The filling was a mixture of chicken, various vegetables, and glass noodles. We loved them from the first bite. I think what really made them shine was the freshness of the ingredients. Dad mentioned that it looked like they just made them before putting them into the deep fryer. These got the big thumbs up from us.
Next up was the Chicken Satay and that was a bit of a surprise. Four large chunks of marinaded chicken were on long wooden skewers and served with peanut sauce, cucumber chutney and some grated carrots and cabbage. The chicken was fantastic. The meat was char-grilled and had a rich and complex smoky taste to it. It was tender and the combination of the smoke, hearty peanuts and sweet cucumbers was fantastic. Dad and I gobbled this up in record time.
The final appetizer were the Mike Thai Dumplings. Four large dumplings were brought out and served with another batch of the sweet and sour sauce. The dumplings contained chicken, pork, shrimp and various spices. I really liked them. The filling was excellent. What Dad and I didn’t like was that the dumpling skins had cooled too quickly and were somewhat rubbery. Still, the overall points for the dish were in the positive range.
With the appetizers in our stomachs, we settled in to wait for our entrees. As expected, they did take a while to come out from the kitchen, but the two staff members were doing an excellent job of keeping plates cleared, glasses filled and thanking people for being patient.
Dad’s Mike Thai Rama Chicken was slightly red in color and featured chunks of tender, juicy chicken cooked in a pungent peanut sauce. That was served on a bed of spinach and shredded cabbage. The results were outstanding. I loved the fact that the sauce was sweet, fiery and satisfying all in one bite. The addition of the spinach for a bit of bitterness and the cabbage to help put out the spice was welcome. Dad loved every aspect of this dish, but thought the dish was perhaps a bit too spicy. That, however, didn’t prevent him from lapping up the sauce.
My Thai Omelet was massive and the aroma from the eggs had me salivating. The huge square of eggs enveloped pork, shrimp, peas, cilantro and green onions. It was the best dish on the table and about 100 times better than Egg Foo Yong. The little side of spicy tomato sauce gave it a acidic quality, but I preferred it without the sauce. I think Dad and I were really surprised by how much we liked the Omelet. It really surpassed our expectations.
After our feast, I talked Dad into splitting a piece of the Coconut Ice Cream Pie ($4.95). Our server cleared our dishes and refilled our glasses while we waited for our dessert. The place was getting a bit quiet as the other patrons had finished their meals. One stopped by and asked about the omelet and we shared our thoughts on it and he swore he would try it next time he was at Mike Thai.
The Coconut Ice Cream Pie was a large slice of ice cold pie with a graham cracker crust and surrounded with orange slices and maraschino cherries. Dad and I were rather disappointed with the pie. It just didn’t have the richness and complex flavors of good, homemade coconut ice cream. Instead, it reminded me of coconut flavored ice milk. After a few bites, we sort of picked at it but it just wasn’t inspiring us so we abandon it. I wish it had been much better, but I suspected it might have been made off site.
After having another round of Diet Cokes, we requested the bill and the total was $57.97 including tax. We thought that the freshness and quality of the dishes were well worth the tab. The service was fine, even with the delays, and I was very appreciative that they told us up front they were short staffed. A big kudos for honesty.
We started the long trek back to Phoenix and we were very pleased with Mike Thai. It was an unexpected find and even through the dessert didn’t pan out, we were still very happy.
And Dad’s withdrawal symptoms had abated.
The Mike Thai Restaurant & Bar
5110 East Southern Avenue
Mesa, AZ 85206
Hours: Monday through Thursday - 11 AM to 9:30 PM; Friday and Saturday - 11 AM to 10 PM; Sunday - 11:30 AM to 9 PM.
Alcohol: Full bar.
Additional photos can be found at www.feastinginphoenix.com
5110 E Southern Ave, Mesa, AZ 85206
It does not surprise me that you enjoyed Mike Thai after reading your review from Mint Thai from a few years back. The couple that owns "Mike" is the previous owner of "Mint".
Not sure how many times you ate at Mint Thai but if you were a regular (I was) you would have noticed alot of the same unique items on Mike's menu. I had eaten at Mint Thai so often that the first time I ate at Mike's, I knew the owner's had to be one in the same.
You are correct about Mike Thai's name, as well. You may remember the host at Mint Thai was a tall caucasian man in his late forties (?) who was pretty gruff (but a "softy" at heart) well that was Mike. His wife is Asian . She knows good Thai food, and she knows it well.
Just curious, have you been to Mint Thai lately. If you haven't, don 't bother. It's nothing like it was prior to the change of ownership.
Seth - I don't have remotely the experience with Thai that you and your father do, nevertheless I recommend adding Siam Orchid in Gilbert to your list of places to try. Now, I have not been in at least three years, so I have no idea what it's like today, but I have visited 5-6 times in the past and loved it each time. Give it a shot...
Here is their menu...
I eat at Tum Nak usually about once a week since it's close to work. Things are fresh and flavorful, though I think they avoid fish sauce and shrimp paste in their dishes (many folks find those flavors weird, I love them). I've had the usual array of choices -- chicken and basil, curries, pad thai, pad kee mao, and others such as the hot pot of tom yum or the som tum salad. I've never had anything I'd consider bad or poorly done.
As a plus, they will season things hot if you ask for it, especially once they get to know you.
We stop in at Tum Nak just about every week too. She told me that they do scale back on the fish sauce because people find it "smelly." If more authentic is what you're after I'm sure they would accommodate. Pad Ped off of the special menu is spiced with galangal and very flavorful. They will make Panang Curry if you ask. I don't think it's on either menu. The food is solid and the young mom/pop couple are so friendly it's easy to become a regular.
re: Doug in Mesa
We only made it to Mike Thai once before its untimely demise. We enjoyed our lunch (probably the same choices as below) and it was quite nice inside. We went to Papaya Thai for lunch Friday. The Tom Kha soup had a wierd sweetness that we didn't care for at all and it had far more onions than chicken... not a good thing. We also ordered chicken larb. It too was way, way sweet and light on chicken. We're talking Baskin-Robbins sweet here. We asked for medium hot and they hit the target there. Service was good and the chicken satay appetizer was ok. We will probably give it another try but wouldn't order the above items again. Sorry to say east Mesa folks but this place is definitely not a gem.
I believe that you are correct. The owners of Benjarong Thai have also taken over the space on Baseline between Gilbert and Lindsey that used to be Wang's Chinese Food. The name is Jasmine Cafe, they have pretty much the same menu as Benjarong. I know it has received mixed reviews but I love Benjarong!