‘Food like you get in Thailand’ at China Garden Too in Vail
VAIL ” I was just a little girl when I lived in Bangkok, but I still vividly remember walking down the city’s busy, dirty streets to buy plates of sweet rice and mango from street vendors.
Vail is a world away from Bangkok, but locals and visitors alike can now find authentic Thai dishes in the heart of the mountain town.
Though the Crossroads Mall awning still bears the name “China Garden Too,” the cuisine now hails from south of the Chinese border. Manager Phatharin “Pat” Amawasri and her entirely Thai and female crew of chefs, cooks and servers recently introduced authentic Thai cuisine to Vail.
“I think it will be a very good change,” Amawasri said. “The owners (Sharon and David Moo, who also own China Garden in Avon) are supportive.”
Chinese or Thai?
Some customers cruising thought the doors have been surprised to discover the mu shu pork and kung pao shrimp are gone, but the Thai food has been well received, Amawasri said.
“They like the changes,” she said.
And some Asian-American favorites, like crab Rangoon or cream cheese wontons, endure from the old menu. Sesame chicken isn’t on the menu anymore, but if you ask nicely, the cooks will whip some up. But be warned, it’ll be the Thai version of sesame chicken.
Amawasri is also trying some Eur-Asian fusion, including calamari, breaded “Thai style” and served with sweet and sour sauce.
The interior decor is also still more Chinese than Thai, save for a few Thai posters. Chinese lucky green and auspicious red are still plentiful around the restaurant, but Amawasri said she may add a few more Thai touches.
But it’s not the decorations she’s concerned with ” it’s the food.
‘Like you get in Thailand’
For lunch, diners can get their own plate, but the food is served in the traditional family style for dinner, so get ready to share. If you’re new to Thai food, the ever-smiling Amawasri will graciously make suggestions.
To start, try the shrimp spring rolls ” shrimp, lettuce, carrots, rice noodles, cucumber and basil rolled in rice paper and served with a sweet chili sauce sprinkled with peanuts. The healthy, guilt-free appetizer is big on taste.
The coconut soup packs a lot of punch in a little bowl. The bold flavors of organic fresh galangal, lemongrass, lime juice and scallions leap out and take hostage of the palate ” in a good way. But beware the big flakes of dried roasted chili, they’ll clear the sinuses.
But Thai cuisine isn’t all about spiciness. The Massaman curry is a mellow but tasty dish of potatoes, onion, carrots and your choice of meat or tofu in a coconut curry sauce.
While Pad Thai is a well-known Thai noodle dish, branch out and try the Pad Se-Eew, a dish of stir-fried wide rice noodles, egg, carrots, and broccoli. Dark soy sauce lends a touch of sweetness to the delectable dish.
“This is food like you get in Thailand,” Amawasri said.
Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at (970) 748-2927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.