>> Aroi Mak Mak | Eat the World Los Angeles

Friday, 21 May 2021

Aroi Mak Mak

THAILAND 🇹🇭

COVID-19 UPDATE: Both indoor and outdoor dining are available.

While it would probably not make sense for folks that live closer to Thai Town or other wonderful restaurants in the Valley or the Southeast LA/Orange County borderlands to drive out to Redlands for the food at Aroi Mak Mak, there are definitely reasons to pull the car off the freeway on trips to points east. All of those reasons reside on the cocktail menu, surprisingly.

That menu is full of Thai-inspired options born of true depth and creativity, not just throwing some lemongrass or kaffir lime leaves in a spirit. The one that might take the cake is the clever sorry, sorry, sorry ($12, below), a mezcal-forward cocktail that also incorporates Riesling and Suze and the freshness of bergamot orange, pineapple, chrysanthemum, and lime. A garnish of coconut jelly colored by butterfly pea flower is speared with a dried slice of dragon fruit.

Other selections range from just about every main spirit branch, with hints of tropical flavors and Thai ingredients mixed in with other cocktails that also do not stretch to find ways to make their home at a Thai bar. The cocktail list was designed by someone who knows what they are doing.

The restaurant, located in downtown Redlands, has the feel of a place that does not see a lot of Thai clientele. It uses stereotypes and well-known touristy iconography, but somehow it does not come off too badly. Sitting at the bar or at the tables out front are equally comfortable. You may even snag a seat at (in?) the tuk-tuk in the back.

And the food? It is certainly not that of a lackluster Manhattan or Midwestern suburban takeout place, but there is a decent amount of room between the best options in Los Angeles County and the plates offered here. They probably have to tone down and remove some ingredients to keep their client base happy, but they are using fresh ingredients and it shows.

Both the phad thai ($14, above) and khao mun gai ($14, below) were finished without complaint and made for a good meal. It is suspected that most of the other dishes will have the same effect.


📍 344 Orange Street, Redlands, Inland Empire

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