Malai Kitchen rolls out a five-course June tasting menu that will knock your socks off
Beginning today and wrapping up on June 30, Malai Kitchen is serving a five-course tasting menu that will knock your socks off.
If you’ve ever thought Dallas lacked for good Thai or Vietnamese cuisine, then you haven’t visited Malai Kitchen, the West Village jewel from chef Braden Wages and his wife, Yasmin. The Wages travel frequently throughout Vietnam and Thailand, cooking, eating and cribbing recipes as they go. Then they bring it all back here, wrapping it in nice little packages of umami for their Malai Kitchen.
Last month, The Wages introduced a five-course tasting menu to their already popular dinner menu. They change the menu each month, overhauling the courses from top to bottom with new Asian dishes then pairing them with good wines. This month, the Wages continue the dazzle with a whole new menu, which they invited me to preview. I came away mightily impressed.
The Wages create food that get your juices running. They grind their own coconut, make their own sriracha sauce, and brew their own craft beers. They bouy sparkling presentations with equally vibrant flavors and spicy undertones in dishes like steamed Chilean seabass swaddled in house made red curry, coconut cream, bok choy and kafir lime; and pulled pork tucked inside a handmade rice noodle crepe. The chefs tumble pan-roasted duck, shrimp, peanuts, squash blossoms and tempura-fried morning glory leaves in a zippy coconut-tamarind dressing for a Bangkok-style salad. Malai’s Banh Cuon, a crispy-edged Vietnamese pancake whose pillowy center is lifted by a runny quail egg, sits on a nest of lightly pickled carrots. And just when your taste buds think they’ve had their fill of sweet, salt, spice and umami, the Wages bring it all home in a decadent ice cream sundae that marries fresh-churned coconut ice cream to sweet mangoes, creamy Forbidden rice, crunchy corn nuts, shards of toasted coconut and a salty, dried red plum. It’s a polygamous affair, to be sure, but since everything stays snuggled inside a fresh coconut shell, even pious neighbors won’t complain.
Each of Malai’s dishes on this tasting menu is dazzlingly flavorful and dizzyingly beautiful, yet each makes a perfect case for even the most jaded foodie at your table to ask herself, Why are we not eating here more often?
At $58 per person (reservation required), plus $30 for optional wine pairings (Chateauneuf du Pape blanc, Spanish granacha, German riesling, French Burgundy, plus a spicy ginger margarita “martini’ to start it off), Malai Kitchen’s June tasting menu is the best everyday meal deal in town this month.