Mai Vietnamese | Cotati

When life gave them pink slips, the Mai’s made Pho.

Turns out that within months of each other, mom, dad and daughter all got
laid off from a local technology company (along with many others) in a serious bit of downsizing. Undaunted–okay, a little daunted–the family traded in their cubicles for a small restaurant south of Rohnert Park best known for, uh, hardware superstores and Red’s Recovery Room. In other words, the west side of Cotati.

Well-hidden in the far corner of a mini-mall, Mai’s isn’t a place you just happen upon. You have to have heard about it. And word seems to be traveling fast. Popping up on Chowhound and other food blogs, their Pho is oft-lauded as among the best in the region–flavored with fragrant flavors of ginger, lemongrass, and lime. Frankly, it’s as pleasing just to smell as it is to eat.

But what makes Mai so much more pleasurable than some of BiteClub’s other Viet-faves is the atmosphere. A huge step up in ambiance from the tasty, but, noisy and inelegant Pho Vietnam, or Simply Vietnam (see review),= Mai has a polite genteelness that extends from its lemon-yellow walls and complementary sweet-salty peanuts, to the museum-like collection of Asian stringed instruments and-okay, and this I admit is weird, but even their immaculately clean bathroom. (Trust me, the restroom at Pho Vietnam is NOT a place you want to linger).

At Mai, the family hovers politely around the dining room, taking care of little details–like gently moving items around the table so you can better access your plate, or asking if you’re comfortable.

Which is all nice, but does the food stack up? Aside from the Pho ($7.50 for a small bowl), which can be ordered with tendon and tripe (a favorite of Pho-natics), the rest of the food BiteClub ordered was prepared with a sort of care and precision you don’t usually find in a busy Asian restaurant. Fresh spring rolls ($5.50) had a light touch, with layers of noodles, pork, lettuce and mint (there must be mint, or forget it), topped by tender shrimp and paper-thin rice wrappers.

Their crispy Vietnamese crepe ($8.50 and new to the menu) takes about 10 minutes to make, and is loaded with noodles, veggies, pork and shrimp that tingle the tongue with flavors of savory and sweet. To boot, Mai’s prices are comparable (and sometimes less expensive) than their more casual counterparts. The menu also offers a variety of noodle and rice noodle soups and vegetarian options.

Worth a second look: Lotus Root Salad with shredded lotus root, carrots, onions, peanuts and mint leaves and vermicelli with BBQ pork.

Chopsticks-down a solid Vietnamese eatery. Seems the Mais have found good fortune in Pho.

Mai Vietnamese Cuisine, 8492 Gravenstein Hwy, in the Apple Valley Plaza, Cotati. 707.665.9628. Open Tuesday-Sunday 11am to 8pm.

Author: biteclub

Food Dining and Restaurants in Sonoma County and beyond, BiteClubEats.com is Wine Country dining with Drive-Thru Sensibility.

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2 Comments

  1. A visit to Mai’s Vietnamese cuisine is an introduction t the Vietnamese culture, CHEERS style. Here, not only do you get great authentic Vietnamese food but people will remember your name, your dietary concerns and your preferences.
    This is the only restaurant I know where regulars greet each other and would enquire about other regulars’welfare.
    This is what Vietnam is about. A riendly place where you feel comfortable and accepted and where we share great food.

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  2. PREVIOUS COMMENTS
    Kat (06/08/2008 12:29:05 PM)
    Comment: Mai’s is the best! The food is fabulous, the service attentive, the prices fantastic and the pho is the best in the county. I give it five stars!
    Posted By: steve (02/04/2007 10:19:08 AM)
    Comment: Thanks Doc, I almost forgot the old school Green Turtle. What great memories.
    Posted By: isabella (02/04/2007 9:35:57 AM)
    Comment: Pho Vietnam may be inelegant, but they manage to serve up a HUGE extra-large bowl of Pho for 6.50, plus herb garnishes. It feeds me well for 2 days…
    Posted By: Doc (01/04/2007 8:43:46 AM)
    Comment: Aa a Vietnamese food enthusiast customer, I find the food at Mai Vietnamese Cuisine good. One time I found the pho broth need an additional touch of flavor; the owner accepted my feedback and improves it. I recommend the same practice to you; after all, it is your taste, time and money that matter. Most importantly, ambiance, cleanliness, sanitary condition, and welcoming attitude make your outing time memorable. You find all this at Mai Vietnamese Cuisine. The menu at this restaurant is similar to the one being offered at a high class of authentic Vietnamese restaurants. Trust me, the owners will work with you to customize the composition of your dish to fit your personal, dietary, and medically restricted needs. This restaurant is definitely worth my time to invest in its success and in providing good and authentic Vietnamese food and, perhaps, reviving the good old days of a similar class restaurant of the past, The Green Turtle. You are hereby recommended this fine restaurant by a local health care professional and native from Viet Nam.
    Posted By: buckwaverhaven (31/03/2007 9:32:11 PM)
    Comment: Ok, so I tried Mai Vietnamese Restrauant. It’s ok. The broth needs work. Probably because the owner does not cook it herself. Very nice people I must say. Pho Vietnam use to be the best but has gone down almost to the bottom. Also, use the bathroom at Burger King. trust me! Oliva is right. Thang Long in Petaluma is excellent but needs to work on customer skills. My Ha on airport blvd is clean and very good quality. Lee Pho on Hopland Ave is not bad and the service needs improvment and finally. Simply Vietnam use to be Cam Ranh Bay offers excellent quality under new ownership. Nice enviroment and good service. To sum it up. Simply Vietnam, Thang Long and My Ha will be the best choices.
    Posted By: olivia (30/03/2007 5:10:18 PM)
    Comment: Probably because of its location on the east side of Petaluma near Trader Joe’s, Thang Long often gets left out of discussions about local Vietnamese food. But not only do they have fabulous pho and bun, they have Vietnamese sandwiches–the best are the ones with barbecued pork. Really a great place to check out if you love Vietnamese food. Nice family business.
    Posted By: Vince (30/03/2007 3:21:04 PM)
    Comment: Yumm, I’ve been looking for more pho. I like Pho Vietnam but it just doesn’t stack up to some of the pho I’ve had in SF(I think their broth is a little heavy on the star anise or something). Those spring rolls sound delish, too. We’ll definitely be checking this one out.

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