Neighborhood Hot Spot

May Restaurant

December 17, 2008

It’s the best-looking Thai restaurant in a town crawling with Thai joints, and certainly one of the best-cooking. You know the place even if you haven’t been there: that exotically filigreed facade at 45th and Woodlawn in Wallingford. Inside, carved teak covers the walls, lilting Thai folk music lifts the mood, and heavy brass utensils adorn the table. But the real beauty begins when the pad Thai lands. That complex, sour-sweet-savory flavor? How pad Thai is meant to taste, which is to say, without the Western cure-all called ketchup. Instead, your waiter will shred Chinese chives and banana blossom, then grind peanuts, sugar, and dried chilies to your taste. Curries at May are balanced and silken; seafood dishes—like the signature phad grapao samui with sautéed sea scallops, prawns, and calamari in a feisty, basil-bright sauce—are brightly seasoned and packed with fish. At last, this complex and beautiful cuisine is brought off with actual complexity and beauty. And cocktails!

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