Years ago, Mali was one of the only Thai restaurants that would actually make my dish Thai hot despite my light complexion. They added heat by adding hot peppers, not pepper flakes like some other restaurants. It also had one of the best patios in the neighborhood, covered and secluded, the perfect spot to enjoy mouth-numbing food and a cold beer.
Now expanded to include the storefront on N. Highland, Mali still serves some of the best Thai food in town. Although they are regulars at a Thai spot down the street, LC and I talked my friends SPA and AA into joining us there recently, then we stopped by again just last night.
Our first visit began with a bottle of nigori sake for me and SPA…I love its creamy nutty flavor! Edamame was easily shared and devoured, but each couple got their own order of basil rolls, stuffed with twice cooked pork, plump shrimp, rice vermicelli, and fresh basil. This tasty appetizer topped our order on the return visit as well.
Little has changed on the menu, still offering Thai favorites plus a full selection of sushi. LC and I tried Mali’s version of naam sod, a traditional ground pork dish mixed with fish sauce, lime juice, ginger, scallions, and cilantro, served with cabbage leaves for wrapping. Beads of sweat formed on LC’s forehead and our mouths were on fire…fantastic!
LC ordered a Firecracker roll, a giant fried sushi roll made with salmon, scallions, and spicy mayo as his entree on our visit with friends, while we shared a Virginia roll made with fresh yellowtail, avocado, scallions, daikon sprouts, and crab (subbed for tuna), then rolled in crunchy tobiko during our most recent meal there.
I couldn’t resist my favorite dish, the Hot Hot Hot Seafood, a combination of shrimp, mussels, scallops, squid, onions, and peppers sauteed in a spicy basil sauce. The second time around we split another spicy seafood dish, the Best of the Boatman with shrimp, scallops (main photo). Both featured expertly prepared seafood.
Two visits, two desserts! The four of us ordered the crispy fried banana paired with coconut ice cream and we each had a couple of bites. When LC and I returned, I made sure to get the sticky rice with coconut cream served with sliced fresh mango. Tropical and delicious!
961 Amsterdam Avenue 404-874-1411