Vientiane Thai Cuisine is a Winner
By Charles Dubow
Photos: Jim Henkens
“If we lived closer, we’d come here every week,” says my wife Melinda as we sit in a booth in Vientiane Thai Cuisine in Torrington happily slurping broth and rice noodles. “And the kids would love it.” As with so many things, she is right. The food here is absolutely delicious.
Embarrassingly, this was the first Thai food I had eaten since moving to Washington nine years ago and I forgot how much I loved it. While we are fortunate to have many first-class restaurants in or nearby town, we are a little short on more exotic fare. So many of our best local eateries are rightly focused on creating menus based on seasonal produce and proteins from our excellent farms, and are pushing themselves to serve cutting-edge dishes, that the simple pleasures of authentic pad thai or sear-your-taste buds green curry is sometimes overlooked.
As with many of my favorite restaurants in Litchfield County, such as New Milford’s Greca and Tandoori Flames, diners should not be put off by the location or exterior of Vientiane, which is located in a drab shopping center called Torrington Commons, and sandwiched between a smoke shop and a lumber liquidators. What matters is what comes out of the kitchen.
And what comes out of the kitchen is sheer gastronomic joy. Melinda loves Tom Kar—a soup made of coconut milk, mushrooms, onions, carrots, bell peppers, galangal ginger and lime juice—and this was a prime example: silky, spicy, and altogether satisfying. Equally delicious is the beef Pho (technically Vietnamese but what the heck) and the pork and shrimp wonton soup.
We also loved their crispy spring rolls but the fresh rolls served with their special pineapple sauce were marvelously light. While we enjoyed everything, two real stand-outs were the wonton pad thai, a terrific combination of two classic dishes in one; and the Thai hot pot, a broth bursting with seafood simmered in a piquant pik prow chili sauce. And I would be remiss if I did not recommend the Thai iced tea, which is black tea mixed with sugar and half-and-half. Caloric to be sure but sinfully delightful.