As y’all know, we don’t blog negatively. There’s enough negativity in this world. Plus, we aren’t professional food critics or experts-we are just two average foodies trying to eat a great meal.
However, you may have noticed some food genres are notably absent or nearly absent from our blog. Take, for instance, Thai food. Without saying anything negative about any place in particular, I will just say that in our humble opinions, Birmingham hasn’t had a really great Thai restaurant in the time we’ve lived here. The only really great Thai place around here that we know of is Kati Thai in Gadsden, which we’ve written about here. As awesome as Kati is, it’s all the way in Gadsden. This is of particular concern for poor Mr Foodie, as Thai food is his number one favorite type of food period. Whenever we travel, the first thing we have to do is to get him some pad Thai and a Thai iced tea STAT. So when our good friend Abhi from our beloved Everest Sushi told us that a friend of his had opened up a Thai place in Vestavia, we were on the case.
Masaman is a small, homey restaurant just a few paces down from Publix and on the other side of the parking lot from another blog favorite, Kool Korner Sandwiches, and next to China Ben. You might miss it if you aren’t paying attention-the only sign is in the window. It was originally just a takeout place but last week, they added several tables and chairs for dine-in customers.
Even though this is obviously a commercial space, it feels like you are in someone’s kitchen. (Not my kitchen, unfortunately. Our grocery list this week consisted solely of Greek yogurt ice cream bars.) The sounds of stir fry mix with faint aromas of ginger and coconut milk curry. You order at the counter. Here’s the menu:
A very kind woman took our order and gave us some advice on the menu. One of our foodie friends had also given her input: she made it there before us and reported back on her favorite dishes. So it didn’t take us long to decide.
We chose to eat in – I feel like food always tastes the best right after its made. Everything was served in takeout containers. The message was clear: this place is no frills and all about the food, something we found really endearing.
As we waited for our food, Mr Foodie was getting more and more excited. We had a good feeling about this place – our “foodie-dar” was going nuts. I checked the distance on google maps-13 minutes from our house. This could become a weeknight staple.
First, the Yum Namsod arrived. Minced chicken with large strips of fresh ginger, onions, and whole peanuts in a very light lime marinade, served with cabbage. This was absolutely incredible. The dish was bursting with flavor, and was fairly spicy. I was already impressed that they aren’t afraid to use some spice. The menu indicated the spice level at “two peppers”, and we really felt like this matched that description (although when the chef and his wife later saw my beads of sweat, they told me they can customize the spice level if needed-which I reassured them was not necessary).
Isn’t this beautiful?
Next, the yellow curry. So fragrant, I sat there wafting it while Mr Foodie photographed everything. The chicken was cooked perfectly-not overdone in the slightest (overcooked chicken is Mr Foodie’s #1 pet peeve). Mixed with carrots in a light, creamy coconut milk curry that was a bit spicy but less so (just “one pepper”), and slightly sweet. Among the best curries we have had anywhere.
And the pad kee mow, or spicy noodles. Definitely two peppers. I ordered it with tofu, which was plentiful and perfectly stir fried and served with green beans and broccoli atop flat rice noodles. My new favorite noodle dish in town.
The chef and his wife came over a few times to check on us and ask us how we liked it-really great, attentive service, especially for a take out place. It seems like they’re quickly developing a following in the neighborhood-we saw a steady stream of take-out customers while we were there.
As I write this, Mr Foodie is passed out in a foodie afterglow coma. And I know he’s not the only one craving great Thai food in this town – people are always asking us for Thai food recommendations. Finally, we will have an answer.
NOTE: they are closed Sundays, so don’t say I didn’t tell you!!!