NIAGARA FALLS – The last time I walked into the Thai restaurant Mii on Pine Avenue, the Beatles’ “Dear Prudence” was playing on the sound system. An odd choice, I thought.
Recently reopened as My Thai, the cozy little spot directly across from the City Market still doesn’t look or sound like anything remotely resembling southeast Asian, but it really doesn’t matter all that much. The food is good enough to make up for the lack of cultural aesthetics.
On a couple of recent visits, members of the entourage – seasoned Thai food fans, I might add – noted that the pad Thai here was among the best anywhere, as well as the Pho soup. Other dishes received similar raves.
“The Pho was amazing ... literally the best of my life,” said my daughter. Her friend, a Thai aficionado visiting from Pennsylvania, said that he samples the local Thai cuisine wherever he travels and that My Thai’s pad Thai was “probably one of the best. Very, very good.”
So forget about the local radio playing in the background, and cut them some slack over the lack of authentic furnishings. It’s still a very nice-looking place – just not Asian-looking to any great degree. Just remember: You can’t eat the décor.
When it comes to eating out at ethnic restaurants, I guess I would rather soak up authentic flavors than authentic ambience, if a choice has to be made. The flavors at My Thai are phenomenal.
Eric described his pad Thai ($9.50) as “very subtle. I could taste the different components of the dish (tofu, egg, crushed peanuts, bean sprouts and lime) instead of them being drowned out by a heavy peanut sauce, like others I have had.”
“This version also had fried tofu in it, which gave it a lot of substance and made the dish very hearty,” he said. “The shrimp was cooked perfectly, not overdone, and very tender. Plus, it was a very good-sized portion.”
He was also impressed by the presentation, with a subtle garnish of chopped peanuts and lime on the side.
Speaking of presentation, the pineapple fried rice ($11.50) was the hit of the night, arriving at the table in a hollowed-out pineapple half. Consisting of a heaping portion of rice, complemented with pineapple, curry powder, chicken and shrimp, it was a meal in itself, with contrasting sweet and sour flavors. Excellent!
The Pho, a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup, was served in what literally seemed to be a two-quart bowl. It easily presented enough for two solid meals. Steffany ordered the Bangkok Street Beef Soup version ($9.50) and was brought a bowl teaming with long, thin rice noodles, scallions, onions and cilantro. But the highlight was the beef: Butter-tender, it had a tasty sweet flavor reminiscent of subtle ginger and other seasonings. It must have been marinated for some time to achieve that level of melt-in-your-mouth goodness.
I decided to take the road less traveled and went with a dish called lard nar ($9.50). It consists of stir-fried rice noodles in a thick gravy with Chinese broccoli and your choice of meat. I opted for shrimp. They were tender and tasty, as Eric had noted. I couldn’t distinguish any difference between the Chinese broccoli and your average domestic spears, but the gravy definitely was different from any I had ever had. It reminded me primarily of Chinese egg drop soup; it had a very runny, eggy quality to it, but it wasn’t bad. All in all, I enjoyed the dish.
The roasted duck Laab ($13.50) was excellent, set off with a nice, not-too-spicy sauce with toasted rice powder, dry chili, shallots and mint that allowed the competing flavors to shine through. The duck meat itself may have been a little overcooked, being tough in spots, but it was well-garnished with red peppers and green beans, and pleasing to both the eye and the palette.
We also sampled the Pataya fried rice ($11.50), which was augmented with chicken and shrimp and came wrapped in an omelet. Everyone agreed that it was simply awesome. There was only one word for the roasted duck curry ($15.50), made with red curry and tossed with pineapple and tomato: yum!
For starters, we sampled the calamari ($6), which was cooked to perfection, not rubbery or tough. It was tender and extremely flavorful but was served tossed in a pickled mixture of cauliflower, carrots and cucumber, which caused it to be somewhat cold. Otherwise, it was quite good and recommended.
The crab spring rolls ($4) were good, but (as is the case with many Asian restaurants locally) featured imitation crabmeat – although the menu said “fresh” crab. The rice wraps had a very fresh flavor, possibly due to the julienned ingredients having been tossed in lime juice. A word of warning: These rolls are very filling, so you probably want to keep it to one apiece.
To keep the experience as real as possible, we washed down dinner with iced lemon grass tea, which was surprisingly refreshing, and Thai iced tea (each $2.50), which is always delicious and sweet.
We capped it all off with helpings of the mango sticky rice and sweet black rice desserts ($4.50 and $3.50, respectively). We weren’t overly impressed with either, which was surprising given the quality of the entrees and appetizers; they just didn’t seem as sweet as we would have expected. They were more savory than sweet, less of a dessert than a side dish. OK, but not great.
The service was more than adequate. All in all, it was an enjoyable experience. A little Thai music might go a long way toward making the visit even more authentic, but its absence certainly isn’t a deal-breaker.