Seattle, WA 98144
Vieng Thong is located in a non-descript mini strip-mall just north of Franklin Highschool, and is another of those restaurants I've passed a zillion times and hadn't registered as a place to go. But the interior of the place doesn't match its outside suroundings... heavy curtains shield the windows from the unmentionables of MLK, and a tall row topped with silk orchids divides the restaurant giving just about any table (not just those lucky diners tucked back into thatch-roofed nooks) something to nestle against and get a cozy intimate feel. The entire restaurant was richly decorated almost like a movie set of an outdoor scene in SE Asia.
I didn't have high hopes for a vegetarian dinner, and was prepared to enjoy vicariously. The menu did include a special "vegetarian" heading, but I think it might have been a confused lable for "vegetables" as the dishes were things like, "Snow Peas with Oyster Sauce," "Broccoli with Oyster Sauce," "Green Beans with Oyster Sauce," etc. I orderd the vegetable curry, and was able to special request that it be made without fish sauce.
We ordered Som Tum, green papaya salad, as an apetizer. It arrived as a beautiul pile of tender but crisp juicy shredded green papaya flecked with red pepper and thin slivers of tomato. It was salty and limey and covered in chopped peanuts. The whole thing was served with a quarter wedge of firm white cabbage, which we used to scoop up and eat the salad. The salad had the distinct tang of fishsauce, which was aparent to my un-accustomed tongue but nearly indecernable to my dining mate. I usually avoid fish sauce, but decided to just muscle through. We ordered it "medium," on the spicy scale, and it was spicy enough to get my nose running, but was still easy to eat.
We also ordered sticky rice, which came in a little woven basket from which we pulled portions with our hands. The rice was delightfully textured; perfect for forming into little balls or patties for scooping food and absorbing sauces.
It seemed my request for the curry without fishsauce required some special preparation, as it came to the table a long time after everything else was delivered. I thought it was decent... of the yellow variety... potatos, red peppers, broccoli, carrots, cabbage... and it truly was without fishsauce, which surprised me a little bit. It was spicy and tasty without being too salty, sweet or rich.Unfortunatly though, that did pretty much exaust the vegetarian options. There is a bean-curd phad thai, and maybe I'll try that next time.
The service was friendly enough, and our waitress had hair down to her ankles. Most dishes were in the $6-10 range.