Sunday, August 8, 2010

Authentic Vietnamese Food @ Xuan Mai, Bangkok

On my last night in Bangkok, I met up with Aunt Kung and Mild who took me to a Vietnamese Restaurant called Xuan Mai around the Thonglor area.

Small and cozy, Xuan Mai’s décor had a café like ambiance with newspaper clippings and pictures of the owner Mrs. Meyung Robson. I was surprised to find out that Mrs. Robson was once a Miss Saigon 1970 who went on to become FBI’s first American-Vietnamese special agent in 1984 before retiring in Bangkok where she opened up her own restaurant in 2005!

As a restaurateur the goal of Mrs. Robinson was to serve up authentic home-cooked Vietnamese Food in Bangkok. The menu was full of pictures illustrating the different Vietnamese dishes on offer making life easier for people foreign to Vietnamese Cuisine to order. Aunt Kung loves Vietnamese Food and so we left her to do the ordering.

Pickled Radish and Carrots
Pickled Radish
Pickled Carrots
We were given some Pickled Radish and Carrots as a pallet opener. This was definitely the real deal as it wasn’t as sweet as the one’s served in Toronto and had a more pungent flavor from the vinegar

Steamed Prawn Roll
Steamed Prawn Rolls
This is one of my favorite Vietnamese appetizers and it was really good at Xuan Mai. The rice paper crepe was very thin and soft. The filling contained pieces of prawns with the right amount of vermicelli, spring onion, basil, mint and some Vietnamese Sausage Meat.

Grilled Pork Chop with Rice Noodles
Grilled Pork Chop with Rice Noodles
The pork was very tender and had a wonderful flavor from the fish sauce. The noodles were very soft similar to the texture of Khanom Jeen (Thai Fermented Rice Noodles) and the Fish Sauce dressing was done perfectly to not overpower the noodles and pork but giving it an added depth in flavor.

Deep Fried Cuttle Fish
Deep Fried Cuttle Fish
Another excellent dish. The batter was neither too light nor heavy and had a nice crunch. The skillful use of Minced Fried Garlic made the cuttlefish addictive to eat without making it bitter to the pallet.

Grilled Ground Beef wrapped in Betel Leaf
Grilled Ground Beef wrapped in Betel Leaf
Usually served as an appetizer or as part of the popular dish “Bo 7 mon” (Beef Cooked in 7 ways), Xuan Mai’s version was very flavorful and was grilled just right maintaining the moisture of the meat

Lemongrass Prawn Skewers
Lemongrass Prawn Skewers
I was never really a fan of this dish after trying many versions that tend to be either too oily from being deep fried or too dry from grilling. Surprisingly Xuan Mai’s grilled Minced Prawn Skewers was moist and seasoned just right.

Crème Brulee
Crème Brulee
We ended our meal with a Coconut Crème Brulee. This is definitely not Vietnamese but it was quite good. The Crème Brulee was creamy and actually contained real vanilla pods

I definitely enjoyed the food at Xuan Mai. Although it is my first Vietnamese Restaurant I’ve eaten in Bangkok, Aunt Kung and I both agree it is as close as you could get to Vietnam. It’s not Fine Vietnamese Cooking but if you’re looking for some real home cooked Vietnamese Food, Ms. Robson’s Xuan Mai definitely hits the spot.

Food: 4.3/5
Service: 4.5/5
Ambiance: 4/5
Price: $$ (Under USD $20 per person)

Contact Information
Address: 351/3 Sukhumvit 55 (Thonglor, corner Soi 17), Klongton, Wattana, Bangkok 10110
Tel: +66021852619

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