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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Houston
Food
Feel
Price
8.9
6.0
$25
Thai
Casual restaurant

Hours
Mon–Fri 11:00am–9:30pm
Sat–Sun noon–9:30pm

Features Veg-friendly
Bar BYO
Credit cards Visa, MC
Reservations Accepted

www.viengthaihouston.com

Spring Branch
6929 Long Point Dr.
Houston, TX
(713) 688-9910
Vieng Thai
Houston’s best renditions of the cuisine from Thailand’s greatest culinary region

Isan (or Isaan, or E-Sarn) is the northeastern portion of Thailand, bordering Cambodia on the south and Laos in the east and north. It is one of Thailand’s poorest, most rural regions, and arguably its greatest culinary district.

Here, you’ll be fed som tam, a salad of crisp and sour green papaya, fiery chilies, palm sugar, salt, garlic, dried shrimp, peanuts, fish sauce, lime, and often other ingredients, ground together with a mortar and pestle. It’s unique, delicious, and virtually impossible to find done right in Texas. Vieng Thai does a faithful version, but ask for it “very spicy,” if you can handle it. There’s also a Laotian version here involving ground crab shells, but it’s just okay, and like eating gravel. The cardinal sin here is ordering food-courty Thai dishes. Just say no to spring rolls, Massaman curry (a dish from the south), or pad Thai. None of it’s bad, but it’s dullsville next to the gamey regional “E-Sarn Sausage;” fried pilot fish; or, perhaps, pla pad ped (crispy catfish sautéed in curry paste). Try anything with kaffir lime leaves, a unique, authentic Thai flavor scarce elsewhere.

Meats are sometimes overcooked and flavorless, the room’s small and dingy, and service is perfunctory and unhelpful—but, given the opportunity to taste authentic Isan food in Houston, we hardly notice.

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