If you are seventeen years old then the location of Mindy K’s Deli is fantastic. If you are anyone else, then the drab three store strip mall off Boston Post Road in Old Saybrook is quite unattractive. Sandwiched between a third rate liquor store and Northeast Vapor Supplies — a bonafide leviathan in the Connecticut vape scene — sits Mindy K’s Deli. It has odd hours (stays open till 5pm, but doesn’t serve dinner), distinctive lettering on its store front, and an unusual name — you’ve tempted us with that “K”, Mindy! Yet if you look at the parking spots in that lot, they are always filled. And considering that both the liquor and vape stores are ghost towns, despite the unbeatable deals on 30 racks of Natty Light, you have to ask yourself — why is Mindy K’s constantly packed?
The lunchtime rush at Mindy K’s is frantic and crowded. Noobs freaking out about it’s cash only policy and queuing a long line behind the ATM, an overflow of take-out and dine-in orders being processed, along with battles for open tables. You get everyone here —suits, moms hanging out, grandparents taking out their grandkids for lunch — and they are here for the reasonably priced and tasty comfort food that the family-run Mindy K’s cranks out. The menu at Mindy K’s is eclectic — everything from Spring Rolls, to Wraps, to Burritos, to Pho, but don’t just look at the online menu as its outdated and doesn’t represent Mindy K’s full offerings. A big board on the left wall when you walk in has options that probably double the size of the online menu. Further, behind the counter, there are other specials that are primarily of South East Asian origin.
I’d say there are two reasons why you’d go to Mindy K’s. The first is that its a one stop shop for a wide variety of food. American staples such as buffalo chicken, barbecue roast pork, and steak and cheese wraps are all there, but so is a host of burritos and quesadillas specials as well. Whether it’s a burrito, sandwich, or quesadilla, everything is served with a heaping portion of fries that strike a nice balance of grease, crisp, and volume. Most of these options are for $8.95 or $9.99. You just simply won’t find this quality, quantity, and variation for a lunch spot anywhere. Other places might beat Mindy K’s in one of those categories, but they are about untouchable when accounting for all three.
And while I’m not going to sit here and say that any of the food options I described above are the *best* renditions of each genre you’ve ever had, I would firmly proclaim Mindy K’s Vietnamese and Thai options as the best homecooked Asian food around. Outside of Queens and yes a few choice Pho shops in Bridgeport and New Haven, we don’t really get any Asian food that is quality and not of the restaurant variety. Mindy K’s provides this. Both their Spring rolls and Summer rolls are homemade and delicious — though I’d venture to say that the summer rolls with shrimp are most spectacular. Little specials behind the counter like Thai Pork Chops with Jasmine rice are simple and dreamy. The rice is light, fluffy, and sticky — it’s how white rice is supposed to taste, even if restaurants rarely execute it correctly. Lastly, in a region bereft of a proper bowl of Pho, Mindy K’s fills that void. Whether it’s the heat of July or the ice of January, a piping hot bowl of Pho is always a welcome option and nobody on the Shoreline does it better than Mindy K’s.
There are few places where you can order a Buffalo Chicken Quesadilla with a Summer Roll on the side. Its a super weird combo, but it works and underlines this eatery’s style. For legitimate Vietnamese and Thai food and tasty American comfort options — all at extremely reasonable prices — head to Mindy K’s.
Strengths: Variety / Affordability / Southeast Asian Fare / Comfort Food
Weaknesses: Cash Only / Parking / Overly Crowded at Lunch
Tips: The specials behind the counter are eclectic and tasty. Try some of those after taking down their staple dishes.
FEAST: Pho / Summer Rolls / Any dish that includes their sticky rice
FROTH: Nothing exciting. Soda and water. Go for the water, save the calories for the FEAST.
FEAST: 7/10 – FROTH: 3/10 – FOOD:7/10