Off South Kihei Road, in the back left corner of the Rainbow Mall, is a Thai food haven I recently discovered. A few weeks ago my friend and I walked into the soft-lit little restaurant that sports a fish tank in the middle of the room. The walls are lined with Thai tapestries and decorations, and the tables are covered in spotless white cloth.
Scoping the menu, I found a bountiful selection of preparations ranging from “Evil Prince” (chicken, beef or shrimp with bamboo shoots, basil, coconut milk and red curry paste over shredded cabbage) to “Crispy Cornish Game Hen” (one pound whole Game hen, herb marinated and deep fried served with sweet chili sauce). They also serve plenty of soups, salads, noodle and rice dishes, as well as seafood and vegetarian options.
To my pleasant surprise, there are about 20 items in this category and not all of them were based around tofu. Alright!
I started with a large Singha beer ($7.50) and vegetarian Thai spring rolls ($7.95). The spring rolls were crispy fried and filled with long rice noodles, cabbage, carrots and onion. They came with lettuce, mint, cucumber and a really good pineapple sweet and sour sauce that had ground peanuts. So tasty, and available with chicken, too.
There’s a little note on the bottom of the Maui Thai menu warning customers that the chef’s idea of hot is pretty damn hot, so if you want to be spicy, it’s best to try out the medium before you get ahead of yourself. I, of course, love all things spicy, but I heeded their warning once I had decided on the sauteed chili tofu ($8.95) and only ordered medium spicy. My server re-warned me that spicy was pretty hot, but I stuck with my decision.
My partner in crime went for the Thai beef steak ($9.95). Our entrees arrived shortly after devouring the veggie Thai spring rolls. A large bowl of white rice between us, I looked down at one dish, piled high with tofu sauteed with bell peppers, kaffir onions, black mushrooms, baby corn, bamboo shoots, carrots and basil in red chili sauce. I scooped white rice onto my empty plate and then spooned the veggie and tofu mixture on top. Then I ladled even more sauce over that.
I probably should have done a taste-test first, but I was thinking with my stomach, not my brain. It was so good, but oh, so very spicy! I couldn’t stop eating the food, but I was also emptying glasses of water like I had just spent three weeks in the desert. My lips were tingling, and not in that wasabi sting kind of way that goes away after just a minute, or that Mexican salsa sting that burns your mouth worse when you drink water. It was that really good but really long-lasting Thai sting that I’ve been looking for.
My companion, chuckling at me and my water guzzling, thoroughly enjoyed his grilled, sliced beef with onions served with a tangy Thai steak sauce over chopped lettuce and topped with sesame seeds and green onions. “It tastes just like when you smell beef cooking,” he said.
But I wasn’t really paying attention to that. I was too busy cleaning my plate at my new favorite Thai restaurant. MTW