Everton Plaza heats up with the arrival of Southeast Asian restaurant Mai Gai
Everton Plaza might be a far cry from the motorbike-filled streets of Bangkok, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sample some of the same Southeast Asian fare. Mai Gai – the hub’s new greenery filled eatery – is slinging the tastes of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia from its laneway space, adding a sense-invigorating option to the suburb’s thriving complement of culinary outlets. Mai Gai officially launches this Friday October 15 – have a gander at the bounty that awaits you …
Suchada Nakbunchuay never thought she’d become a chef, or even embark on a career in hospitality. Growing up in southern Thailand, viable career paths in the culinary realm were hard to come by as the support for such endeavours simply didn’t exist. Suchada’s upbringing involved plenty of cooking, though – under the tutelage of her grandmother, Suchada made sauces, sambals and preserves (an essential practice in a home without electricity) for family gatherings and weddings. Even while working as a food runner at a restaurant in Bangkok (where she also attended cooking school as a hobby), Suchada believed that there was no career to be had in the kitchen, only realising that passion could become profession when she moved to Australia to study English. While studying with the intention of earning a degree in business and marketing, Suchada was eventually presented with more and more opportunities to learn the culinary craft. Jobs working as a wok chef at restaurants in Cabarita and Kingscliff snowballed into Suchada electing to take a course in commercial cookery, which, once complete, earned Suchada a role at popular Byron Bay institution Bang Bang. It was here that Suchada truly began to shine, quickly climbing the rungs from wok chef to chef de partie, then to junior sous chef and senior sous chef after that. Before long she wasn’t just cooking, she was practically running a kitchen. Before long another opportunity came knocking – Mai Gai, a brand-new Southeast Asian restaurant in the works at Everton Plaza, was seeking a head chef to construct its menu and oversee its kitchen operations. After having her name put forward by a mutual connection, Suchada was offered the gig and, after carefully deliberating on the opportunity, signed on to run a kitchen of her own – one that she could mould and shape as she liked.
Mai Gai sits in the heart of Everton Plaza’s Park Lane strip, nestled near Comuna Cantina, Corbett & Claude, 5 Boroughs and Stellarossa in the space formerly home to Sichuan Papa. Sichuan Papa’s old-school suburban Chinese restaurant interior has been transformed substantially, with hospitality design firm The Retail Designers imbuing the space with playful, vibrant and transportive atmosphere. Greenery, timber and brushed concrete create a fun textural interplay, conveying the energy of Bangkok and lush jungles, while the open-plan kitchen gives guests a glimpse into Suchada’s energy filled operating space. Mai Gai’s operational ethos is all about having a good time, and Suchada’s take on Southeast Asian fare – boasting shades of Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Laos, and Cambodian cuisine – is similarly imbued with youthful fun and genial warmth. Homestyle recipes from Suchada’s youth are brought to life using contemporary cooking techniques and exceptional produce, with snacks and small plates like Moreton Bay bug buns, massaman baos, kingfish sashimi and crispy sriracha cauliflower available alongside gai yaang butterfly charcoal chicken, char prawn som tam, Mai Gai butter chicken, and braised Cape Grim beef pad see ew. Over at the bar, former Emporium bar manager Ariana Pieterse is crafting a host of colourful bespoke cocktails to match the sensational fare, with the likes of the Monkey Magic (Malibu coconut rum, butterfly pea syrup, pineapple juice, lime juice and citric acid), the Koh-Koh-Nut Margarita (Patron tequila, Cointreau, coconut cream, coconut milk and lime juice) and the Mai Sugar Hai (Absolut vodka, blue curacao, blueberry puree, pineapple juice, lime juice and soda) available alongside a tight list of wines and beers.
Mai Gai officially opens to the public on Friday October 15 – you can find contact details and opening hours in the Stumble Guide.
The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Brisbane dining guide with more than 2400 places to eat, drink, shop and play.