Earlier this year, Urbanspoon, which I had used for traffic referral was bought out by Zomato. I’ll avoid the rant over why this has been so terrible. However, it has caused me to change my review focus somewhat. They emphasize neighbourhoods, so you are going to see quite a few Saint Vital posts in the next while, as I attempt to improve my status there. I’m starting that off with my recent visits to Vanxai Laos Thai restaruant on St. Anne’s. Having both Boun’s and Vientiane nearby, I also thought it would make for an interesting comparison.
I’m not sure what was originally in the building that Vanxai now occupies, but it’s purple exterior makes it stand out as you head down St. Anne’s just after it splits off from St. Mary’s. Inside, the building is quite cozy. There are several tables along the wall on your right hand side, and a few on your left including a couple in a little raised enclosure. Both times I visited Vanxai I was there off peak hours, and so I had no trouble finding myself a table.
My first visit to Vanxai was for a late lunch. I ordered the Bangkok Chicken Wings, and a bowl of Curry Noodle Soup. The bottom of the menu suggested a heat level for the various soups, but when I brought this up with my server, he told me they simply bring out hot sauce and add it to your hearts content.
I enjoyed the fact that the wings I received were large and meaty. I prefer fewer large wings than more small wings in my pound of wings. The sweet chili sauce brings a nice combination of both sweet and heat to the dish.
The Curry soup was a gentle curry. The broth was rich, and there were plenty of meat and vegetables to be found in the dish. I added enough of the hot sauce paste to give the soup a good bit of bite, but didn’t reach the full heat potential.
My next time at Vanxai’s was for an early supper. Salad Rolls are one of my favourite appetizers. I find them light and often one of the more fresh items on the menu. Unfortunately, the one’s at Vanxai were not particularly memorable. There was too much lettuce and the shrimp were rather flavourless. The dish was saved somewhat by being served with the same sweet chili sauce that the Bangkok Wings had been served with.
The other dish I ordered was the Spicy Cashew Nut. You can order this with the just the vegetables, or at a protein. I added chicken to mine. I was pleased to discover that there was plenty of each of the vegetables on offer, as well as lots of chicken and cashews. This is one where I think I should have asked for an increase in the spice level. It certainly had a good amount of heat, but I would have enjoyed trying it at fire breathing levels. It was nice getting some cauliflower among the vegetables. The Spicy Cashew Nut came with a bowl of rice and this dish would certainly have served two quite nicely.
I found both of my meals at Vanxai quite good. Vientiane Thai & Boun’s Asian Restaurant, in that order are still my preferred work neighbourhood spots, but I certainly would never say no to a trip to Vanxai’s. I’d also like to try a few more items some day to see if maybe I missed something really special.