For some reason I thought I had written this place up a long time ago, but after searching for it, I realized I had not. MaDee is one of those little hole-in-the-wall places which lies in an indescript strip mall, keeping to itself without much fuss. I wouldn’t even have ventured in had I not found it on Yelp.
I call it fast casual dining since you order at the counter, pay, and then when your food is ready, they’ll bring it to you. A really nice lady runs the place and she will talk to you if you initiate, otherwise, she is rather shy and quiet. We’ve been there many times and have tried quite a few things on the menu, most of it good, some great, and then of course, the outstanding ones.
My son’s favorites at any Thai restaurant include Fried Tofu ($5) which is decent here, but not a stand out dish.
Another one of his favorites is Chicken Satay ($6) but I’ve had better. It’s passable if you absolutely have to have it.
Beef Salad ($9) is absolutely delicious, perfectly tart and the beef very tender and flavorful. I can never pry this away from my child when we dine here.
If you’re a salad fan then Papaya Salad ($7) must not be missed. This is one of the best papaya salads I’ve had in Orange County. The julienned papaya is crisp and fresh. I don’t like it when it’s been over-marinated. The salad possesses the right amount of acidity with saltiness from the dried shrimp and great spiciness from the slivers of Thai bird chilis interspersed throughout. This is so addicting I can’t stop eating it.
Larb Chicken $8 is another stand-out. It arrives slightly warm and dotted with red onions. This is another delectable offering not to be missed.
Noodle fans should order Pad Kee Mau chicken ($9). Unlike the pad Thai and the pad see ew, the pad kee mau is not on the menu, but you can ask for it. “Drunken noodles” as it is known in Thai, this is best eaten hot and spicy!
If you like soup noodles, they made a really great Kao Soi ($8) here. Khao soi is a Burmese-influenced curry noodle dish widely eaten in Laos and northern Thailand. I’ve tried many of these in various restaurants, but I love this one. The pickled vegetables make such a difference, adding acidity and saltiness. I always want more of it in my broth!
On a recent visit, I ordered Crab Fried Rice ($10), which is outstanding and there is real crab throughout with a deep fried egg on top. There is enough for three lunches for me out of this one order. It doesn’t look like much, but it is very substantial.
There aren’t many good Thai restaurants in Orange County, so I’m always excited to find another one I can frequent, especially one which offers those delicious curry noodles.
MaDee Thai Kitchen
401 E 17th Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92627