The Ritz Café has always been a good spot to grab a few cheap drinks and probably the last place one would expect to find good Thai food in Oak Bluffs. This changed in 2009 when Sai Mai set up shop in the Ritz’s unused kitchen and turned part of the building into Martha’s Vineyard’s newest Thai restaurant. Sai Mai’s dining room is small, but they have done a great job transforming it into a space that feels calm and inviting. This is quite a feat considering that there is only a half wall separating Sai Mai from the bar room of the Ritz.
The Sampler Platter, consisting of Fresh Spring Rolls, Fried Rolls, Crab Rolls, Fried Wontons and Chicken Wings, is great for sharing. Served with a sweet and sour sauce, the Crab Rolls are similar to crab Rangoons, but wrapped in a crispy, flaky, fried wonton.
The Fresh Spring Rolls have lettuce, sliced carrots, cucumber, rice noodles and Thai basil, delicately wrapped up in rice paper. The vegetables are fresh and crunchy and the basil ads a bright, almost mint-like flavor. The rolls are served with a light peanut sauce that has vinegar, chunks of peanut, and a touch of fish sauce. The Chicken Wings were decent fried wings but nothing special. The hot sauce that came with them, however, was excellent. It had a bright acid flavor from the vinegar, and low level heat that settles in the back of throat.
While the menu lists the Pad Garlic and Pepper as stir-fried chicken, on a friends recommendation, we ordered it with beef instead. The thinly sliced beef sat on top of broccoli that was cooked to perfection, bright green with just the right amount of crunch. The dish had a rich, meaty sauce, balanced by garlic and cilantro.
Tom Ka Kai soup is one of KD’s favorites. Sai Mai’s version features mushrooms and large chunks of white meat chicken in a rich coconut milk broth. The soup was fragrant with galangal and lemongrass and had just a hint of fish sauce funkiness (the good kind). This soup is a perfect example of how Thai cooking strives to combine many different flavors and balance them in a single dish.
EA ordered the Red Curry and Rice with chicken and brown rice. The curry was coconut milk based, with sweet basil, green beans, eggplant, zucchini and both red and green peppers. The large chunks of zucchini and eggplant were very tasty as they had soaked up lots of flavor from the curry. The curry itself was sweet and highly seasoned, with just a touch of heat. EA thought he could detect a slight licorice taste to the curry, probably from the basil. The Brown rice was beautifully cooked, with a little tooth to it, and a natural sweet nutty flavor.
None of the dishes we have ordered have been particularly “spicy”, so if that’s your thing, you might want to request some extra heat. In addition to the Ritz’s beer menu, they also have two types of beer from Thailand to pair with their dishes.
Sai Mai offers fresh, reasonably priced food and friendly service on Circuit Avenue, in downtown Oak Bluffs. If you’re having a hard time finding it, just ask someone how to get to the Ritz.
Editor’s note ~ At Hungry Native, our restaurant reviews are by no means comprehensive, we may have visited a particular place many times, or perhaps only once. For the most part, we focus on specific dishes. We try to judge restaurants for what they are, rather than compare them directly. No review should be taken as a blanket endorsement of an establishment but rather a guide to what we found especially good or interesting.
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