‘hot’ new Thai restaurant opens in Chippewa Falls
When Mahli Thai owner Terri Wilson first discovered the former Bridge Street Station in downtown Chippewa Falls was an empty lot for sale, inspiration and possibility burst from her curious mind. It was early 2011 and she and her husband Tom were having friends over for dinner. “I put an offer down the next day,” said Terri.
Then, on May 20, the Chippewa Valley’s newest destination for Thai cuisine opened. Mahli Thai Asian Cuisine features a comfy café dining atmosphere met with fantastic Thai food in a comprehensive and diverse menu.
When I visited, Terri exhibited grilled pork satay skewers served with an original peanut sauce and a sweet vinaigrette dressing with diced red onion garnished with a bed of purple and white cabbage shreds and cherry tomato. Then came the Pad Kee Maow with chicken, featuring soft pan fried noodles and tons of veggies in a light, spicy and savory sauce of chili pesto, lemongrass, kaffir lime, and the ginger-like galangal root. And then the red curry with chicken arrived, whose creamy coconut milk, vegetables, spicy curry paste, and bowl of jasmine rice provided a familiar and satisfying fire inside; or, as I call it, the good hurt.
The restaurant’s décor suggests impressions of calm and pleasing Zen reservation. Green plants grow in long planters along the dining room’s white sides. A small brass Buddha shrine sits high in a corner. Panes of glass lining the kitchen wall feature bamboo stalks, and a bamboo forest mural graces the hallway leading to the back in shades of light green. The mural and glass panes were personally designed by Terri. Soon the walls will feature elephants and Buddhas in teak reliefs (detailed, ethnic wood art carvings) from Thailand. She prefers simplified décor to Asian restaurants with distracting or gaudy interior design. “No souvenirs, you know. Trinket things on the wall. Can’t stand that,” said Terri.
The menu provides a total of 36 dining options, from appetizers and salads to pan fried noodle dishes, soups, seafood, curry, fried rice, and stir fry. “Thai food is so expansive,” said Terri, “it’s influenced by Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Burmese, Indonesian, Polynesian, Japanese … they all play a role.”
Beverages include a revitalizing Thai iced coffee, soda, wines with merlot, cabernet, and chardonnay options, and beers including imports, Leinenkugels, and other domestics.
Terri moved to the United States from Chiang Mai/Chiang Rai, provinces in Thailand’s far north, when she was 8 years old, and every dish is an original Thai recipe passed down from her family.
“The recipes I get from my mom,” she said. “My dad, he’s the Sauce King.” Mahli Thai serves only white meat chicken and only pork and beef tenderloins, fresh ingredients, and every meal is hand-made and cooked to order.
Terri has been in the restaurant business for 15 years. She owns another Thai restaurant, Suvan’s Kitchen, in Lompoc, California 25 minutes west of Santa Barbara. It features an identical menu and has seen continued success for over seven years. Mahli Thai is the third restaurant she has opened.
Terri and Tom moved to the Chippewa Valley with their children from California in 2007, having grown fond of the Valley on the occasional visits to Tom’s family, who grew up in Colfax. Their 5-year-old daughter Mahli is the restaurant’s namesake.
Mahli Thai Asian Cuisine • 212 N. Bridge St., Chippewa Falls • 861-5333 • MahliThaiCuisine.com • Dine in and take out options available • Open Tuesday-Saturday 11am-8pm