Friday, May 25, 2018

Popular Vietnamese Restaurant – Brentwood Missouri

Our recent visit to St. Louis and Laurie’s family of course involved food and exploration… For a change of pace, Laurie’s sister Bonnie and her husband Bill suggested a popular local Vietnamese restaurant.  It had been a long time since we had any Vietnamese cuisine so we were enthusiastic to give it a try!

This is the exterior of the Mai Lai Vietnamese and Chinese Restaurant in Brentwood Missouri.   It's actually built into a parking garage and parking for customers is free...

Founder Lee Tran, her husband and son escaped war torn Vietnam in 1978 and came to the USA.  At first she worked as a waitress at several St. Louis area Chinese restaurants just to help the family make a living.  However, Lee Tran’s dream was to open her own restaurant.  So, in 1985, she opened Mai Lee Restaurant with a full Chinese menu.  In time however, she slowly added Vietnamese dishes to the menu.  At that time, the tiny Mai Lee Restaurant only had 6 tables in the dining area…

That tiny 6 table restaurant is long gone!  Today, it is a large and bustling place with a lot going on… The dining area is expansive and this popular restaurant and bar is a busy place! 

FYI, Mai Lee is generally credited as being the first Vietnamese restaurant in the St. Louis area.

Laurie remembered the great Vietnamese Iced Coffee that we used to order when we lived in Chicago, so she ordered it at Mai Lee.  Basically, its quality medium or dark blend coffee processed through a French press with hot water and then added to a glass with ice and condensed milk.  She did enjoy this special treat! ($4.00)

Once again, I did a poor job of taking photos before we attacked the food!  The ladies weren’t too hungry so there was a lot of focus on the appetizers.  This is the only photo I captured before we wiped out our various orders of spring rolls.  The good news is that from an appearance standpoint the difference between them is mostly what’s inside them…

We had 2 orders of Goi Cuon with shrimp, pork and vegetables wrapped in rice paper. ($3.95 per order with 2 spring rolls each) Then we had Goi Cuon Ga Nuong, grilled chicken spring rolls. ($5.25) Finally, we had Goi Cuon Thit Nuong, BBQ pork spring rolls. ($5.25)

We enjoyed all of them!  Laurie and I agreed that we could have made a meal just from a few more of these delicious appetizers…

Laurie strayed from our foray into Vietnamese cuisine to order a bowl of one of her favorite soups.  This was Mai Lee’s version of classic Chinese Hot and Sour Soup. ($4.50) It was loaded with egg, wood ear mushrooms and bamboo shoots and it was very good.

Bonnie and Laurie split a Banh Mi Thit (Vietnamese Pork Sandwich) for their dinner. ($4.50) Not only was it a good buy, it was a great sandwich too.  It consisted of Vietnamese-style pork, pate, mayonnaise, cucumber, pickles, jalapenos and cilantro served on a nice roll.

For my entrée, I ordered the Truu Xao Xa Ot. ($18.95) This is a lamb stir fry with hot chili and lemon grass.  There was a lot of onion as well and while I’m not big on large pieces of onion, they were easy to eat around.  I loved the flavor and heat offered by my entrée but in my opinion the lamb was tougher than it should have been…

Bill ordered the Mi Xao Thap Cam – Vietnamese-style Lo Mein for his meal. ($15.95) It came with a combination of meat and shrimp.  He’d had this dish before at Mai Lee and he knew he liked it!

I had to check on the difference between Vietnamese-style Lo Mein and Chinese style Lo Mein.  It seems that the Vietnamese version uses a fish sauce whereas the Chinese style uses more ginger and sesame oil.

We wish that we had a restaurant like this anywhere in the Knoxville area!  Mai Lee Vietnamese and Chinese Restaurant is located at 8396 Musick Memorial Drive in Brentwood Missouri.  Phone: 314-645-2835.  Website:   

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for dinner!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. The meals all look good from here. I've never been to a Vietnamese restaurant

  2. Never been to a Vietnamese Restaurant either, as Chinese and Japanese taught me many a lesson ... "Mom? Are you still in there?" ... my daughter more than once asked me when I spent way too much time in the wash room recuperating ... from some Asian fress fest adventure ... but Indian cuisine sits well with me ... especially if I copy and try myself via utube recipes ... and that's how the world turns ... You having an awesome Spring/ Summer, friend Dave? ... Anyway, you are the best ... so enjoyed to join in ... ya, but ... Love, cat.