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The Best Thai Food in Houston? Just maybe. Vieng Thai, which Alison Cook notably included in her 2013 Top 100 Restaurants in Houston list, can be too easily summed up as a great restaurant that serves authentic Thai food for reasonable prices. But such a description does a disservice to Vieng Thai whose innumerable idiosyncrasies make it a truly unique dining destination with a handful of dishes that hit it out of the park.

I think by now we all know that a strip mall location is by no means an indicator of a restaurant’s quality as the examples are too numerous to count in Houston. That being said, I’m sure there are still some that may dismiss Vieng Thai for its drab storefront and electric red sign more suited to a strip club than a restaurant. With the word spreading about its par excellence cuisine, however, it’s safe to say it will soon transition from “hidden gem” to well-known (at least by foodies) hole-in-the wall.

Vieng Thai’s interior, replete with randomly selected Thai tourism prints, large-screen TVs, and a disco ball, confuse first-time diners who may wonder if they will need to do the hustle while waiting for their curry. Although Vieng Thai does a robust takeout business, resist the urge to flee from the questionable decor and park yourself at a table. Oh, and pop the cork! Vieng Thai is BYOB, so by all means grab a bottle (or two) from home, call UBER, and get ready for tippling with Thai food.

Don’t waste your time on standbys like Chicken Pad Thai—it’s not that Vieng Thai doesn’t offer very good versions but rather that your stomach space is better devoted to more of their more complexly flavored options like the refreshing som tum (papaya salad) and the pad prik pow, a sweet-spicy fried rice with chicken, onions, and peppers. Curry dishes are a cut above those found at other establishments, especially the Red Curry whose fragrant aroma leaches into your clothes such that you find yourself craving Thai food the next day again for dinner (even though you had your leftovers for lunch).

Even better are Vieng Thai’s forays into more adventurous entrees. The eggplant “salad” with shrimp, tomatoes, and minced pork is earthy, succulent, and soothing while the spicy clams will arrest your post-work malaise with their heat and latent aroma of salty sea air. A particularly wonderful albeit unconventional cornucopia of proteins can be found in the plan pad pong karee, in which fried catfish chunks intermingle with satiny traces of egg enlivened by sunny cumin.

Little birds say that parking can be tricky during lunchtime, so plan ahead if you’re planning to head to Spring Branch for a quick meal.

Vieng Thai
6929 Long Point Rd
Houston, TX 77055

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Joanna O'Leary

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