As veganism grows in popularity, Boise is keeping up with the trend. Many local restaurants are modifying their menus to accommodate the growing need for vegan options and Mai Thai, located at 750 W. Idaho St., is no exception. In addition to the existing menu, Chef Josh Maciolek has created a new vegan menu that will go live in early November.
"It's challenging for me to step out of my comfort box," said Maciolek. "Vegan is harder... it's tricky and Mai Thai has traditionally leaned more toward North Thai cuisine, but I've been pushing to incorporate more flavors."
Maciolek has lived in Vietnam, and will soon travel to Thailand, Japan, Vietnam and Singapore to scout out new dishes and flavors to bring to the downtown Boise Thai restaurant.
"The point of it all is to bring new techniques and ideas back into the restaurant," he said.
On the new menu are a steamed bao bun, curry-fried chickpeas, tofu satay, Japanese pumpkin croquettes and a new tofu roll. Some of the vegan cuisine contains mock-animal ingredients, but Maciolek has made a point to create new flavor combinations instead of merely modifying dishes.
There's a Korean-inspired bibimbap that uses a mango puree in place of an egg, and a cauliflower steak with pan-braised lotus root and Japanese pumpkin puree called kabocha. Using the Japanese cooking technique kinpira, a kind of pan-braising for the root vegetables and cauliflower, Maciolek plans to pack a lot of flavor into the new vegan options. And Mai Thai is conscious about meeting as many dietary needs as possible. The new menu also caters to vegetarian and gluten-free diets, and the restaurant sources its ingredients from local food cooperative Wagner Farms.
"Whether you're vegan or not, I believe we have a responsibility to source our food properly from sustainable sources," said Maciolek, "and I think people are starting to come around to this ideology."