O Mai is a Vietnamese restaurant located in the trendy Chelsea. It is a decent size place with a warm decor and an interesting menu with unique dishes that can satisfy any palate. We went there on a Friday night and the place was packed. This is definitely the place to go if you like loud music, loud people and barely no light to see your food...Fortunately, the cuisine is worth it: delicious and packed in flavor. Each dish has a name in Vietnamese and there is always an hesitation to give the original name or the main ingredient; should I ask for Ca Bam or monkfish? Bo Luc Lac or beef sirloin? I tried the original names of the dishes, making sure I was pointing them on the menu so there would not be any misunderstanding, and I am glad to report that we got the dishes we wanted...thanks to my finger...
We started with the crispy vegetarian rolls (Cha Gio). Nothing extraordinary there, but still, good rolls, a bit hot as just made.
Then, I could not resist to try their grilled calamari, served with cucumber, tomato, mixed greens and fresh herbs.
I love calamari and was not disappointed at all: it was perfectly cooked, not rubbery and very refreshing with the salad.
Then, Jodi ordered a tilapia served with some vermicelli noodles.
The fish was deliciously spicy, flakey and moist.
On my side, I ordered the sugar cane shrimp:
It is as if the shrimp was put in a blender to create a thick paste that was then put around a sugar cane stick, before being grilled.
It was sitting on a sort of rice net and served with a rice crepe. The way I ate it was by putting some mint leaves, peanut sauce, peanuts, onions and of course shrimp on the rice crepe, and then roll it. It was delicious: I was expecting some sweetness from the sugar cane, but did not taste any. The roll was packed in flavor, the mint giving some freshness to the dish.
Last was dessert. We decided to order the warm banana bread with Tahitian vanilla ice cream.
It was just ok; the banana bread being a bit too dry, it would have been better served with a creme anglaise.
This was a nice dinner and the service was very good. I love the food at O Mai: packed in flavor that is original and surprising. Would I go back? Sure!
Enjoy (I did)!
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And Remember: I Just Want To Eat!