I was an invited guest of Malai Kitchen, the Southeastern Asian cuisine restaurant owned by Yasmin and Braden Wages, for a food/wine pairing showcasing their off the beaten path wine list. I visited the Thursday evening prior to “Icemaggeden.”
The restaurant is located in Uptown and the concept was inspired by the Wages’ travels to Thailand and Vietnam and their love for the cuisine. Braden serves as the executive chef and Yasmin manages the front of the house as well as the wine and beverage program.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I love this style of food and while the cocktail and beer lists look great, I encourage you to try their wine list. The Wages have put so much time into putting together a well thought through, approachable and unique wine list. Many of the wines that I tried were ones not familiar to me and the ones that I have tried before were on my favorite list. Malai offers 20 wines by the glass and they are great values.
We tried two dishes and started with two wines per dish, but quickly Braden and Yasmin began pulling out others that I just had to try. Their enthusiasm and passion for food and wine was contagious and I loved spending time with this delightful couple.
We paired the ahi tuna spring rolls with the Rodez “Cuvee des Crayeres” Ambonnay Grand Cru champagne from France. At $45 for the bottle (yes, at a restaurant – grand cru champagne at $45 a bottle)…, I got fresh baked bread, floral notes, minerality, pear and apple. It went really well with the spring rolls, which were fantastic. Our next wine was the 2012 Aveleda Vinho Verde from Portugal at $7 for the glass or $26 for the bottle. With a slight effervescence to it, I tasted notes of lemon and apple. Another great match.
The next course of Thai coconut soup was paired with a 2008 Domaine Laru Murgers des Dents de Chien, Saint-Aubin Premier Cru at $11 a glass or $42 for the bottle. The acidity and depth of this wine worked perfectly with the soup. The second wine was the 2007 Pinot Noir Domaine Jean-Michel Guillon Les Crais (Gevrey-Chambertin, France), which was priced at $12 for the glass, $46 for the bottle. This was a pairing that I never would have considered but it rocked. Big notes of cherry, earth and spice worked perfectly.
Yasmin and Braden wanted to share the 2010 Domaine de Nalys Chateaneuf-du-Pape at $38 for a half bottle. I got lavender, pepper, rose, cherry and spice. I wish more Dallas restaurants offered half bottles so you can better pair the dishes with the wine. Malai has this as well as a 2003 Sawyer Merlot half bottle at $25.
Our final course was an Australian lamb shank with Massaman curry which was a great match with the lamb. We then moved to one of my favorite Syrah’s from the New World, the 2005 Longoria Clover Creek Vineyard Syrah, at $10 a glass and $38 a bottle. Lots of wild cherry, berry, plum and oak in this wine and it rocked the lamb. You can’t find this wine easily in Dallas – come and drink it before I do. Our final wine was the 2006 Chateau Compassant Bordeaux at $10 a glass or $38 for the bottle. I definitely preferred the Syrah with the lamb, but they both worked.
Thankfully, Dallasites are moving beyond the safe choices and trying the adventurous wines with happy outcomes. And with a 4-7 happy hour with $6 wines, cocktails and a happy hour appetizer menu from Monday to Friday and all day on Sunday, you have every reason in the world to try Malai Kitchen. I have already returned with my husband and kiddo and all signs point to us becoming one of the many regulars who rely upon the Wages’ hospitality.