Before emigrating to the US, chef Aomjai Nueakaew perfected her brand of Thai cuisine in Bangkok’s Thai President Hotel. Now, at Jow Nai Fouquet, Nueakaew pays homage to her Southeast-Asian roots with a menu of stir-fries, noodle dishes, and a seafood green curry that Express Milwaukee heralds as “truly exceptional.” Another of the recipes on the menu—an "aromatic rice dish" with "slow-cooked pork and a garlicky secret sauce"—comes from Nueakaew's aunt, who runs a café south of Bangkok, according to [On Milwaukee] (http://www.onmilwaukee.com/dining/articles/jownaifouquet12.html?viewall=1).
Warm, natural-wood tones blend with contemporary design in the restaurant's interior. A bar painted with circuit-like designs serves up Thai beers and mai tais, and angular blue shapes bedeck a polished wood bench.
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.