Merle [Food] (merle_food) wrote,
Merle [Food]

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Vientian Cafe [Oakland]

Superbowl Sunday! Time to find a restaurant with no television, because (hopefully) nobody will be there. So I sought out a Laotian restaurant, similar to Champa Gardens, that I presumed would not have a television. Alas, they did have one.

Vientian Cafe is in the middle of a residential area, just like Champa Gardens is. I'm not sure if that's just how Laotian restaurants are, but it does make parking easier. Both places are crowded and a bit loud, though, and Vientian Cafe was definitely cramped.

The fresh spring rolls were just okay. They were indeed fresh, but did not have a lot of flavour. The peanut dipping sauce helped a bit, but the rolls should be able to hold their own.

The tom kha gai was very good, possibly the best I've had in a long while. The broth was quite meaty, which was a change from other places. It had just the right amount of mushrooms and other vegetables to keep it from being too thin.

Strangely enough, right when the soup was delivered, they asked if I wanted rice. Presumably this was for the main course, but it was delivered immediately, and sat there getting cold for twenty minutes. That was poorly timed.

The main course, a special of pumpkin curry, was only so-so. It had a nice curry taste, and the pumpkin went quite well with it, but I felt a bit strange when I got home, as if it had had a bunch of MSG in it. There were also a ton of bell peppers in it, which was not part of the description of the dish. Tasty, but disconcerting.

All in all, enjoyable enough, even if I ordered poorly. I wouldn't go out of my way to return (because Champa Gardens is closer and has slightly better fare), but if you're in the area, it's not a bad destination, if only for the soup.

Vientian Cafe
3801 Allendale
Oakland, CA
Daily 11a-9p
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