Traditionally, May Palace has been a Chinese restaurant. But last winter new owners Rick and Joyce Woo expanded the menu to feature dishes from Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and even India, in addition to fthe Sechuan, Mandarin and Hunan favorites. The only way to truly experience the extensive selection is to eat family style, ordering a number of dishes to share, which is the typical way Asian food is enjoyed. When ordering, strive for a harmonious blend of meat and vegetables, hot and cold, and spicy and sweet ” and make sure to bring a hungry party.
Every good Asian meal starts with a big frou frou drink, which happens to be a house specialty at May Palace. Go with a Mai Tai, a mix of fruit juices and rum, served in a tall Tiki tumbler, or keep it family style and pick one of May Palace’s spiked punches served in a gigantic dragon bowl with a few straws for sharing.
Albeit Hawaiian in origin, the American Chinese have perfected the pu-pu platter, and at May Palace, it’s the kind of appetizer that makes everyone sit up and take notice. An assortment of Asian and American classics ” like fried prawns, crab rangoon, beef skewers, chicken satay, chicken wings and egg rolls ” are piled high on a rotating platter with a flame at its center for warming the meats. It’s finger food at its finest. Rick likes to start with the seafood Todmun, a Thai-style roll built around a fish cake and filled with seafood and veggies and then served with the house’s sweet chile mayo. For those who prefer lighter fare, try the Thai papaya salad, made from green, unripe papaya and then tossed in a tangy, spicy dressing and garnished with fresh mango.
Think of dinner at May Palace as an Asian tour and order dishes from each of the continent’s countries. China is the heart of May Palace, so choose at least one of the classic dishes for the table. General Tsao’s Chicken, succulent chicken pieces deep fried and tossed in a rich sweet-soy sauce, has been a house specialty since May Palace opened. For a dramatic presentation, choose the fresh whole fish cooked in a ginger-scallion sauce. The restaurant’s chef, Long, is from Malaysia. Honor his roots with an order of of tender chicken satay, served with peanut sauce. Tour to Thailand with a steaming bowl of coconut curry, packed full of veggies like egg plant, red and green peppers and celery, or go straight up Asian fusion, and opt for the Chilean sea bass Moromiso, an orange flavored miso sauce.
After the parade of plates, sweet crunchy cookies holding your fortune are dropped. But if you need something more, the lychee ice cream is the perfect ending bite.
2109 Frontage Road, near City Market, West Vail