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Taste of Thailand

Cover Story

January 7, 2024

Story By: Dining Out Team | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO

Jaymie Nishigaya/Manager, Joy Liu/Chef, Maile Sengoura/Owner, Janel Martin/Director of Operations, Sina Wong/Assistant General Manager

Hailing from a family of restaurateurs (her aunt owned a Lahaina-based Thai restaurant called Thai Chef and her family owns Paesano/Assaggio), Maile Sengoura was destined to craft her own legacy. Her love of Thai food led to the birth of Maile’s Thai Bistro, a chic eatery offering a fusion of traditional and modern flavors at affordable prices.

Here, Sengoura dives into why she established her restaurant, what draws her to Thai food and more.

Pad Thai Noodles with shrimp ($22)

DO: Why Thai food?

MS: There are several reasons why I chose Thai cuisine for my restaurant. First and foremost, I have a personal connection to Thai food through my upbringing and work experience at my aunt’s Thai restaurants (Thai Chef/Mekong). This exposure allowed me to develop a deep appreciation for the vibrant flavors, unique ingredients, and intricate balance of sweet, sour, spicy and savory elements that define Thai cuisine.

Maile’s Thai Bistro has locations in Hawaii Kai (pictured) and Ward Village.

Additionally, Thai food has gained widespread popularity and recognition worldwide for its distinct and delicious taste. It offers a wide range of dishes with varying levels of spiciness, making it suitable for diverse palates and preferences.

The use of fresh herbs, aromatic spices and a harmonious blend of flavors creates a culinary experience that is both satisfying and memorable.

Thai Loco Moco with pork ($20)

Moreover, Thai cuisine emphasizes the importance of fresh ingredients and the art of presentation. The use of colorful vegetables, herbs and garnishes not only enhances the visual appeal of the dishes but also reflects the Thai culture’s focus on balance and harmony.

Lastly, opening a Thai restaurant allows me to share my passion for this cuisine with others. I am delighted to introduce people to the authentic flavors and culinary traditions of Thailand with a local flair to create a balance of savory and comfort.

Green Curry with tofu ($19)

Overall, my decision to focus on Thai food stems from a combination of personal affinity, the cuisine’s global appeal, its emphasis on freshness and presentation, and the joy of sharing this culinary journey with others.

DO: What makes Maile’s Thai Bistro stand out?

MS: At Maile’s Thai Bistro, we pride ourselves on standing out from other Thai restaurants by offering a unique blend of authenticity with a local twist. While we maintain the traditional flavors and techniques of Thai cuisine, we also infuse our dishes with a local twist that sets us apart. Our goal is to provide a dining experience that appeals to a wide range of palates, whether you’re a fan of Thai food or not.

Wine selection

Whether you’re seeking classic Thai dishes or looking to explore new flavors, our restaurant provides a diverse range of options that are sure to please. Our commitment to maintaining authenticity while offering a local twist is what makes us stand out and ensures that everyone can enjoy our food, regardless of their familiarity with Thai cuisine.

Our menu features a variety of traditional Thai dishes with innovative fusion creations. We offer a wide range of flavors, utilizing fresh ingredients, and accommodating dietary preferences (such as vegan and gluten-free).

Green Papaya Salad ($16)

DO: What are some of your bestsellers?

MS: The Thai Loco Moco with pork ($20) is our version of a deconstructed loco moco with your choice of protein, bell peppers and basil topped with a fried egg.

The Pad Thai Noodles with shrimp ($22) is rice noodles with bean sprouts and chives. It’s our most popular dish!

The Green Curry with tofu ($19) is a medium-spiced curry with coconut milk, basil and eggplant. The Sweet and Sour Fish ($24) features crispy deep fried basa with tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers and garlic in a sweet-and-sour sauce.

The Green Papaya Salad ($16) is shredded green papaya with tomato, long beans and a house tamarind sauce. It’s served with peanuts. A bowl of jasmine rice is $4.

DO: What’s your favorite thing on the menu?

MS: My most favorite thing on the menu is papaya salad. However, I love it “Lao style and Maile hot!”

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