Drew Nieporent is one of the handful of successful restaurant entrepreneurs in New York City. There is probably formula to the operations of his kitchens and the way his restaurants run. I have found a consistent thread. His latest addition to the Myriad Group is Mai House. Mai House is located in Tribeca where the majority of Nieporent restaurants are.
A big room. Lots of great hanging round lights. Really warm lighting. You can peek into the kitchen if you choose. The service is great. The menu is quite extensive. The chef, Michael Bao Huynh, originally came from Bao Noodles on 9th and B which had really good food.
One thing I really like about most Asian cuisine is that everything is for sharing. In essence, you get to taste everything.
We began with a few of the appetizers. Deep fried long and small round mushroom rolls. A mixture of chanterelles, porchini and shitakes mushrooms with a soy dipping sauce. Quite good. We also had a salad spring roll which personally I am not a big fan of. I always feel like I am eating a mouthful of lettuce. Just not that interesting and pretty bland. Deep fried small pieces of cuttlefish with a nice rich dipping sauce to spice up the fish.
For the main courses we tried the Sweet Sour Spicy Whole Red Snapper. Beautifully served as the fish was rounded and then deep fried which made for a really nice presentation. The fish was cut up into small cubes in side and surrounded with a sauce of tomatoes, pineapples and chinese celery. We also went with a mixture of Shrimps covered in a curry sauce and noodles.
We actually had a few other things but I can't recall. Was it good? It was all fine but it wasn't an omigod. I have been trying to figure out how to describe the food. The best way is to say that the food is airbrushed. It had the tastes from Vietnam but it is made to be so perfect. It is missing an edge. Perhaps the food has just been Americanized. Although Bao Noodles was not like this. I find other Nieporent restaurants like that, almost too perfect. Everything is missing depth of flavors and intensity. Airbrushed is the best word I can come up.
It is a great addition to Tribeca. If I lived down in Tribeca I would certainly order in from Mai House on a lazy Sunday night. On an additional note, Josh happened to go there for dinner on Saturday night and really liked what he ate. So what do I know?