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Mai's Restaurant News ArticleMai's Restaurant is a small but gratifying little gem in near east Dallas. The owner, Mai has continued the family tradition of offering the best in fresh, flavorful Southeast Asian cuisine that costs less - and offers far more palate excitement - than any other food.

THE HITS: We can't seem to start a Vietnamese meal without the cool little bundles called goi cuon tom thit, which we call spring rolls but Mai's calls imperial rolls. These are the fresh, nonfried rolls filled with shrimp, chicken. lettuce. crunchy bean sprouts, silky rice noodles and cilantro and mint leaves, wrapped inside rice paper. The peanut sauce alongside makes for great dipping.

Another of our favorites is the bun thit nuong, a deep bowl filled with a nest of tiny threads of rice noodles, shredded cucumber, lettuce tendrils, mint, cilantro, bean sprouts, chopped peanuts and pork strips that have been saturated with tangy lemon grass flavor and char grilled.

Our hot pot choice was the com tom noi dot, a fat, clay pot filled with rice and fried rice vermicelli tangles baked with strips of carrot and bok choy, sliced black mushrooms and small shrimp.

Mai's made it just as spicy as we requested. Particular pleasure awaited in the platter of tender beef strips, marinated with lemon grass and fiery chiles, then sauteed and served with hot steamed rice, bok choy, broccoli and carrot slices. This ellbee came with a simple dear soup with bits of chicken and glass noodles, as well as a tiny fried egg roll and two puffy fried shrimp.

THE REST: For diners wanting something a bit heavier, Mai's has a dish of sliced beef in a coconut-curry sauce. Vegetarian dishes are numerous, ranging from stir-fried beancurd flavored with lemon grass to crunchy egg noodles topped with tofu and veggies. For exotic tastes, there's crunchy jellyfish salad and pickled lemon drink. Anybody seeking a sweet jolt need look no further than the strong Vietnamese coffee.

THE SERVICE: Quick, informative and smiling.

Star-Telegram article by June Naylor Rodriguez