Mai’s Deli: Appleton, Wisconsin

(Her) I finally got a chance to visit this place which I’ve been curious about for awhile now.   Since my initial visit, I’ve been to Mai’s about 5 times and talked it up to people probably more times than I’ve visited. 

Located on the corner of College Avenue and Richmond across from Good Company and nestled next to Insty Prints, Mai got her start at the Appleton Farmers Market and is known for her Hmong eggrolls and stuffed boneless chicken wings (think Hmong eggroll filling stuffed inside an awesomely charred wing).  Mai was selling so much product at the market and getting so many positive comments about people wanting the food year round that she decided to give a restaurant a try.
Everything on the menu is moderately priced and the portions are huge.  I usually end up with lunch for work when I eat there, and my husband and I both agree that the food gets even better when you reheat it.  Definitely the best deal out there is the combination plate of two eggrolls, a wing, fried rice and a soda for 8 bucks! The first time I went I ordered the green curry. Let me say, when this place puts a little chili pepper next to an item on the menu, they mean it.  I was craving to try more of their food so badly that I convinced the hubby to come with me two days later.  On return visits I’ve tried the Pad Thai and the curry noodles, but on this last visit I reached over and tried the same yellow curry my husband gets each time and now I’ve been craving that ever since.  The comfort value and complexity of the curry rivaled our precious Chicken Mahkani from the Indian Joint (Sai Ram). Rarely does food make you feel that everything is right in the world and that you could just curl up inside of it, but I think the yellow curry came close.  (p.s. the yellow curry is NOT spicy, but you can order most dishes to suit your taste level)
Mai’s serves up a good mix of food.  Here’s the menu link for your viewing pleasure.  For you lazy people I’ll do my best to describe the variety.   There are several different types of egg rolls and spring rolls and a homemade sweet and sour sauce that rocks my world.  It’s not uncommon to see people ordering egg rolls by the dozens whenever I’m there.  There are also several noodle dishes, curries, stir fries, and Pho.  Some of the dishes you might not have heard of, and that’s because Mai stays so true to her roots.
For those of you not in the know about Pho, it’s a Vietnamese dish that you personalize on your own by adding the provided condiments and garnishes to a bowl of broth, meat, and noodles.  It’s yummy and adventuresome and most people who are heat freaks will love the heat you can get out of combining the right ingredients.  If you’re not a heat freak, try it anyway and stay away from the super concentrated chili paste.
If you’re in Appleton and looking for something local and different, you should definitely give Mai’s a try.  It is one of those places that instantly became a regular place for us and never disappoints.  I’m not just blowing smoke either.  I live exactly one block from a Chinese restaurant; I gladly drive the 5 miles to Mai’s whenever I’m hungry for Asian food.
Food….8.67….Value….9…..Ambience5 (the place is less than casual dining and most people do take out, but you’ve got to admire them for their humility)…..Service…..8.9 (very quick, even better if you call ahead, and very observant)
Mai's Deli on Urbanspoon

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