Chiang Mai has flown under my restaurant radar for quite some time, but finally, at the behest of a trusted friend, we headed south to Hillside and 31st Street to see what it was all about.
We pulled up to a building with bars on the windows — usually a sign of an impending good meal, in my experience. Once inside, we were greeted by a spacious and tidy dining room with pleasing hues of purple adorning the walls.
While Chiang Mai is primarily a Thai restaurant, its lunch menu, served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., encompasses highlights from several Asian countries, including Vietnam and China. All lunch specials come with choice of salad, soup or egg roll, plus dessert.
One of my favorite cold weather dishes is Thai curry, so I ordered a spicy bowl of the roasted duck curry (Gaeng Phet Pet Yang, $6.95). The dish included bamboo shoots, cherry tomatoes, basil and tender pieces of duck bathed in a wonderfully creamy and spicy sauce. Although I ordered it spicy, it was not overpowering. This was some of the best curry I have had in Wichita.
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My wife went with the mild version of Massaman curry ($6.50). It was made up of chicken, chunks of potato and peanuts in another very good curry sauce.
For our appetizers, I had the soup, while my wife tried the egg roll.
The clear broth soup was simple but satisfying. It consisted of sliced green onions, small rice noodles and wonderful toasted garlic. The egg roll was small compared with some behemoths you can pick up at buffets around town, but it was fresh and enjoyable. For dessert, we each got a freshly fried doughnut that was most excellent.
The service at Chiang Mai was superb. Our waitresses were very friendly and took an immediate liking to our 10-month-old son. He had a fried doughnut in front of him before we even had drinks at our table.