Tucked far in the back of the quaint little Rainbow Mall on South Maui’s South Kihei Road rests an almost-hidden gem called Maui Thai Bistro. It was the Drunken Noodles on their menu that hooked me several years ago with the elegant balance of heat, sweet, and the oh so yummy savory that is Thai Basil. Maui Thai Bistro is known for combining authentic Thai flavors and dishes with a contemporary style that sets them apart from other Thai restaurants I’ve been to on the island.
Awhile back, this tucked away little restaurant opened up what I consider to be a pure gem — The Brasserie — a bar with somewhat of a speakeasy flair (as it is even more-so tucked away) and filled with traditional and Thai-inspired cocktails created by the head bartender himself. We’ve sipped and dined here several times, and the bartender – with his innovative mixology remains consistent and masterful in his talent for balancing Thai and also tropical flavors in his cocktails without being ordinary or touristy.
As my boyfriend, Anthony, and I tend to do when we dine, we sat at the bar tonight and talked story with the bartender as we enjoyed our cocktails, and he talked about his process in creating the cocktails and working with some of the best fresh ingredients. We could tell he loves his job. There are even some new drinks on the horizon he’ll be adding to the menu.
Uncharacteristically, I started with the Strawberry Basil Mojito (Anthony is usually the Mojito guy) instead of my usual spicy/sweet style of sipping. I wasn’t disappointed. The bartender goes the extra mile with this cocktail and uses roasted strawberries in his mix – which add an intense depth of flavor that balances perfectly with the basil. The drink was so refreshing and delectable to the very last sip.
Anthony took my usual approach, and ordered something a bit more spicy than sweet — the Pepper Blossom. With Grapefruit Jalapeño Vodka, Elderflower Liqueur, Lemon, and Basil, this drink was fiesty and full of flavor. The Elderflower Liqueur is a nice contrast to the heat of the jalapeño pepper and the combination gives this drink a full-bodied flavor you want to savor throughout a blissful evening out with your sweetie
But we weren’t finished yet. Hunger soon crept in, and we settled in for our favorite Maui Thai Bistro appetizer — which we were pleased to see is also part of their current Happy Hour Special — at 2 for $14. Two orders of the Shiitake Spring Rolls with a Sweet Thai Chile dipping sauce that is topped with chopped peanuts. While I am crazy about peanut butter, I rarely enjoy dishes with peanut sauces or even the taste of plain peanuts because they often seem to overpower a dish; however, the small amount of chopped peanuts floating atop the sweet and spicy dipping sauce is just the right amount, and I actually find myself scooping up some of the peanuts along with the sauce.
I just had to have a second cocktail to complete the evening. I ordered the Thai Lemon Ale with Svedka Vodka, Thai Basil, Lemon, Lime, and Ginger Ale. A delightfully bubbly drink that tickled my nose and made me giggle, the Thai Lemon Ale was the right cocktail to round out a wonderful night. After meal of sweet and spicy, the ginger ale in the cocktail excellently balanced out all the flavors of the evening.
As usual, we enjoyed our time at Maui Thai Bistro and The Brasserie. We also weren’t at all surprised to see two awards resting atop the bar from both Open Table and Trip Advisor. Whether you are visiting Maui or you live here, Maui Thai Bistro is not to be missed. (We can’t wait to see the cocktails the bartender comes up with next!)