Adelaide Food Central was invited to sample some of the dishes at Mai Kitchen. All food and drink were provided free of charge.
Less than 6 months old, Mai Kitchen is a medium sized restaurant located in the quiet side streets of Ferryden Park. Named after one of the owners, head chef and mother, the name of the place also takes on other meanings; it also means “flower” or interpreted as your very own kitchen.
Unlike many of the restaurants in this area, the place is nicely decked out. I was given a tour by Dan, the son of Mai, who went into the finer details of the fitout. From a logo in a picture frame made solely from rice, to floorboards and furnishings imported from Vietnam, it seems nothing has been overlooked.
Specialising in authentic Vietnamese cuisine, this place offers a full range of classic homestyle dishes that is almost guaranteed to make your mouth water. The extensive menu includes cold rolls, soups, hot pots, stir fried noodles, salads, noodle soups and a large selection of mains that is separated into your common proteins. Catering for the specialised diets of today, they even have a decent vegan menu.
To start off with, I had the Hanoi Style Spring Rolls. Wrapped in rice paper instead of the traditional pastry, the exterior was fried to a light golden brown and was deliciously crunchy. The meat and vegetable filling was generous and well seasoned. The dish is eaten by wrapping a lettuce leaf around the spring roll with herbs and pickled carrot, and then using the dipping sauce. One word, sensational!
The Vietnamese Spiced Quail is another one of their signature dishes. Marinated in a special blend of herbs and spices, the quail meat was juicy and succulent. Like American Ribs, this dish can be a bit messy to eat, but rest assured, you’re given a bowl of warm water with lemon in it to get your hands clean.
For the main, I had the Roast Pork Broken Rice. The roast pork was cooked in house and was marinated to perfection. The pork belly was from a decent cut with good proportions of meat to fat. The skin was nice and crunchy, but not too hard, so no trips to the dentist were required. Unlike other places that specify a broken rice dish but use normal rice, this place is the real deal. A very well executed dish.
The Vietnamese Seafood Salad was so light and refreshing. It contained a medley of seafood including king prawns, scallops and squid. The herbs were fresh and crisp, while the glass noodles were well infused with the tangy lime dressing. I must admit I’ve never had a Vietnamese salad with glass noodles but this one was a winner.
For dessert, I had the Creme Brulee. It was very light and delicate with only a subtle hint of sweetness. The coconut cream that it was swimming in provided good balance to the dessert.
Mai Kitchen is run by a family that is passionate about food and customer service. For them, it’s not only about running a business but it’s also about giving back to the community. They want it to be a place where people come together to enjoy traditional homestyle Vietnamese cooking.
After sampling their dishes today, I found very little to fault. Part of coming to a restaurant is experiencing great quality food, so whatever their long term goals are, I’d say they’re well on their way.
WHERE: 34 Warren St, Ferryden Park