Though its food can be fiery, the atmosphere at Mai Thai Restaurant is decidedly cool. Its photographs of serene beaches create a tropical vibe, complemented by sheer curtains billowing between tables and lights twinkling from inside strung netting. Even appetizers of coconut shrimp and crispy calamari transport diners to a scenic shoreline.
Those hoping for something spicy aren't left adrift, however. The staff increases the heat in each dish depending on what number the diner gives them on their spice scale. Those preferring milder fare can ask for a 0-spice plate, while the truly adventurous can select the maximum 4-spice option, or simply ask for their meal served inside a bottle of sriracha sauce. Flavorful curries also follow a spectrum of spiciness, from the sweet Patpong panang to the more intense Bangkok green. And house specialties employ heat in a more literal way—the volcano chicken, for example, arrives sizzling atop a bed of vegetables with plum sauce.
The Thai Lotus kitchen comes alive at mealtimes, when chefs roll up their sleeves and begin preparing fiery noodles, garlicky stir-fries, and creamy red, green, and yellow curries. The aroma of fresh herbs fills the air as the chefs whip up Thai specialties like volcano chicken and sweet basil duck. The versatile chefs also extend their culinary expertise toward a variety of Chinese and Vietnamese dishes, including tangy orange chicken and simmering pho noodle soups. As the chefs labor in the kitchen, their guests perch on tufted booths, sipping fruity bubble teas and imported beers.