A good meal is always going to be about fresh flavours, good tastes and good cooking. If the meal is in a restaurant the expectations include good service and good food knowledge.
It is a bonus when the table doesn't shake, the plates are warm, (when appropriate) and the room is pleasant. But a prime consideration in these more frugal times, is value for money.
I planned to include May's Thai The Private Kitchen Little Dine-In & Takeaway in my "under $20" restaurant reviews, but we overspent one order by $3. No regrets though.
A passer-by in the area - one of Wairakei Rd's many suburban shopping strips - might miss May's Thai. It is tucked between a liquor store and a supermarket and opposite a pub, and it has an insignificant frontage. It is not big inside and a fair amount of space is devoted to the kitchen and serving area, which is what should happen when the food, not the ambience, is important.
The menus are nicely presented in fabric covered folders, each a different print, and although there are some 46 dishes including the daily specials, it is divided up western-style if that's how you want to eat.
On this mission of value for money we had decided to share dishes and planned a cost of about $70 in total, excluding corkage and sides. We spent more, but not much. The menu listed corkage at $2, but our bill had it at $3 per bottle. No quibbles with that, as the glasses were a decent size and a notch above expectation.
We skipped the deepfried selections of wontons, curry puffs and the likes, preferring the spiky flavours of a Yum squid salad.
The scatterings of diced chilli and red onion and spicy lemon sauce among slices of scored squid hoods was possibly not the best dish to accompany a glass of the new vintage sauvignon blanc from Richmond Plains. But we solved that by treating the (pleasant) wine as an aperitif and the lovely squid as an entree platter. Without being too boastful, we thought our orders showed planning brilliance.
Everything from fish to beef to pork and duck, along with gingered vegetables to sticky rice, worked together. The crispy pork and duck pahd (sic) Thai was the dish over budget at $23. But with its generous servings of crispy pieces, and combination of rich and lean, sweet and savoury, it would not have been amiss had a heftier price tag been attached.
There was more muted applause for the "thai style cashew nuts with beef" but that might have been because the other dishes were so very good.
Sharing dishes means all servings must come in quick order. They did. Many questions of cooking styles and ingredients must be answered knowledgeably. They were. Diners who dawdle over the last glass of red must be treated as politely as those who came, ordered and left an hour ago. We were.
This small place with the long name is a treasure.
May's Thai The Private Kitchen Little Dine-in & Takeaway
Wairakei Rd (beside Super Value)
Dining from 5pm daily except Monday
ph 359 6950
Costs: $9 (spring rolls) to $23 (pork and duck pahd thai) most dishes $18- $20.
Downside: Too many choices.
Upside: So many choices.
Go again: Again and again.
- © Fairfax NZ News