Mai’s Vietnamese restaurant has been a well-known staple in midtown Houston for over 30 years. For a stretch it was one of the few restaurants open until 4a; I am one of many people who have made a 2:15a run to Mai’s for Bo Luc Lac or Lemongrass Chicken after “socializing” with friends in Midtown. A fire destroyed Mai’s a few years back but they rebuilt and a swankier incarnation appeared. Same menu, same prices, same quality only without the 80’s kitsch. Shame, I rather liked the 80’s kitsch.
Its a contemporary, high-ceiling feel now. Warm tones and exaggerated chatter fill the space almost any hour of the day, night or red-eye morning. Lunch is usually busy with a short wait, dinner can be very crowded with a long wait, particularly on weekends. After 2am its a hilarious mixture of misplaced testosterone, drag queens and ink aficionados.
I’ve sampled every part of their menu and it ranges from very good to excellent. This round I tried one of their specialty dishes, Bo Luc Lac (Garlic Beef) with a snow peas add-on; slices of filet mignon marinaded in a fish sauce base, stir fried and served with grilled onion, red bell strips, jalapenos and tomatoes over lettuce.
Despite persistent crowds, which are often unruly in the wee hours, the service here is efficient, courteous and accurate.
On the high side but reasonable just be careful of the add-ons. If you start adding snow peas, mushrooms and egg rolls to your Bo Luc Lac (normally $13) it will quickly go over $20.
I’m glad to see Mai’s up and running again and I’m most happy to know that their reputation for high quality, great tasting dishes remains intact.
Lunch: 20 September 2013
Mai’s | 3403 Milam | HTX 77002