Syracuse has food for your face

I’ll start out by say that Laura and I both had high hopes for this place. Why? I’m really not quite sure. I think we were just hoping for a hidden treasure. As you look at the outside of Mai Lan in this picture, you’re probably thinking, “If this place is a hidden treasure, it’s hidden pretty friggin’ well.”



The first thing we noticed inside was all the shi–errr, junk on the walls. There was random art, magazine pages, and pictures hanging everywhere. I think my favorite was probably the plastic birds that were hanging from the ceiling in front of the register. The “hostess” sat us in the front corner, by the lovely curtains that inexplicably had saran wrap on the top. There was a Vietnamese radio station playing from the back of the restaurant, but I’m pretty sure it was for those working in the kitchen. There was only two other people eating in while we were there. It was very quiet, we could pretty much hear their entire conversation. It was their first time there too.

Before, ordering drinks, we both noted how fluorescent lights give us a headache.


Colin: 2 and 1/2 Cocos (out of 5)

The crap all over the walls was pretty amusing. The lighting was horrible. It was too quiet.

Laura: 2 Cocos (out of 5)




We were feeling a bit adventurous so we ordered some weird drinks to start. Among the selections were fresh lemonade, Vietnamese espresso, guanabana nectar (tropical fruit nectar), soy bean milk and something called pennywort leaf drink. Laura got the guanabana nectar, and I opted for the pennywort leaf drink. I guess I was expecting something similar to tea, but that’s not what I got. It was quite good but, but perhaps a little too sweet. Laura’s was equally as sweet.

For appetizers we ordered some spring rolls and the Saigon pancake. All ingredients in the spring rolls were fresh and they went very well with the peanut dipping sauce. After we finished the spring rolls our Saigon pancake arrived looking like a large crispy crepe; it was filled with shrimp and a variety of vegetables. The pancake was topped with what appeared to be a small salad consisting of iceberg lettuce and julienned carrots. This seemed to be a theme, as our dinners would come with a similar hat made of salad.

Onward to dinner. Laura ordered rice noodles with chicken and I got rice noodles with chicken and curry. We pretty much ordered the same thing, which we won’t do again (Scouts honor?) Mine was a bit yellower because of the curry, but other than that they were identical including the overcooked rice noodles.

Now, if everything went smooth from here on out, we would have walked away with a somewhat satisfying experience. On that note, let’s move on to service!


Colin: 3 Cocos (out of 5)

Appetizers were solid – the pancake was amazing. Dinner was good, but not great.

Laura: 3 Cocos (out of 5)

Appetizers were very good. Entree reminded me of any common Asian noodle dish.




By the time we finished our meals, all the other restaurant patrons had left (all two of them). After about 20 minutes or so waiting for the check, we realized no one was going to come out and tend to us. Laura suggested we dine-and-dash. I told her no, that wouldn’t be right. For fun, we thought we would wait and see how long it would take for someone to come out. After 35 minutes we decided to call it quits. I yelled for someone to come out and take my moneys. Shortly after, an elderly Vietnamese lady came out and hit us with a fiery ball of conversation.  She told us things about the restaurant, the menu, and about how pennywort is “the elixir of life”. Apparently there was an ancient Chinese herbalist who was all about this stuff, and she lived to the ripe old age of 200.


Colin: 2 Cocos (out of 5) (generous)

One word: crappy

Laura: 1 Cocoa (out of 5)

What Colin said.


Mai Lan is located at 505 North State Street, Syracuse, NY


Next up: Ilario’s Trattoria


Hello and welcome. My name is Colin and Laura’s name is Laura. We both live in the Syracuse area and we like food…like, a lot.

After a drunken conversation one night (pretty sure I was the only one drunk), we decided to go on a Syracuse restaurant tour. That was Saturday. At this point, we have yet to start, but we do have a massive list of places we plan to go. Also, we have this blog.

The first place we’re going to try is Mai Lan Vietnamese restaurant on North State St.  Neither of us have ever been there, so it should be interesting.

I know you’re waiting for our first review with bated breathe!


Hello and welcome. My name is Colin and Laura’s name is Laura. We're going on a food rampage in the Syracuse area.

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