We know what you need — a place to have authentic Asian cuisine that’s simultaneously a great place for date night, ideal for impressing foodie in-laws, friendly enough to bring your family, and near a window to the parking lot that also serves a strip club next door.
You have high demands. And they’ve all been met with Mai-Phi — at 1858 N. Sandhills Blvd. The restaurant focuses on Vietnamese, Thai and Laotian cuisine.
James and Keena Lam, of Steve’s TK Pizza in Southern Pines, have joined forces with Bo and Louis Vonghom in Carthage and Chinny Noy to bring you some much-needed global flavor — and their hard work shows.
OK, Now for the Experience:
First of all, never judge a parking lot by its neighbor. Keep your eyes on the prize: The storefront sign, welcoming you inside with its happy grand opening banner.
We were greeted by eager, friendly staff and chose our seats among the huge bar, booths and high- and low-top tables. We don’t normally go for menus with giant photos, but in this case it was helpful.
Sadly, they are waiting on their liquor license, and currently aren’t able to offer beer, wine, or cocktails, so we were finding ourselves exploring the “non-alcoholic” section of the menu for the first time since we turned 21.
We were encouraged to try the Milky Sweet Tea, which we would have never picked out for ourselves, and a yogurt soda. The milky sweet tea is a must try for any southern sweet tea lovers — refreshing but a bit filling so you aren’t drinking soooo much sweet tea. (We know how you all get about your refills). $4.20
The yogurt soda was interesting — think of a fizzy soda with a twist of yogurt. Definitely a fun option for kids. $3.20
Because this is an Asian restaurant and not Carrabba’s, instead of getting bread as a starter, you are served a complimentary crab rangoon. We have a slight seafood allergy but had to try it, and lived to say we are a fan! There is a side of fresh shredded veggies and a sweet chili sauce for dipping. FREE
Next (don’t judge us because, remember, we weren’t expecting the ragoon), we tried the shrimp and vegetable tempura which was fried in a crisp, light, batter. The dipping sauce isn’t too powerful either. $10.50
On to The Main Dishes.
So we know we’ve told you about the Pho before, but if you didn’t listen to us the first time, you must listen to us now. The broth holds the dish up by itself, but is complimented by thinly sliced beef, light noodles and fresh cilantro.
Also, put your phone down because is is expected that you use one hand for the spoon and one for the fork to get it all in there. If you are a regular at Steve’s, you can find it there until 4 p.m. and then head over to the new place to find it again at dinner. $11.90
Next we tried to “lighten” things up a bit with a go at the Papaya Salad. You’ll find this under entrees, which makes sense because it is a hefty portion. The most exciting part was the basket of sticky rice that comes on the side, which we were tempted to accidentally toss into our purse and take home — but we were told the baskets are counted every night, so don’t be that person. We were a bit thrown off by the added fish sauce to the dish, so if “fishy” isn’t your thing, we would pass. $8.90
A Look at More Entrees
Big portions are the norm here, but you can also order small plates.
The Pad Thai: $12.90
You can taste the peanuts, and the noodles don’t weigh down the dish.
Com/Bun Thit Nuong: $17.50
A Vietnamese dish with a ton of flavor, topped with a delicate spring roll. It had light, fluffy, vermicelli noodles, and a sauce on the side.
Panang Curry: $13.90
The sauce was light, and the vegetables were crispy.
Want to try it for yourself?
They are open from 5-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 5-9:30 p.m. Friday through Saturday. They welcome takeout orders at 910-684-8227.