From Vieng Thai Restraurant in Houston, Texas, the cell phone pictures above from left to right are Nheam Sausage, E-Sarn Sausage, and Yum of Crispy Anchovies. Aside from these images and a personal rave shared by all three of my dining companions, I'm limiting my coverage of Vieng Thai to but one more picture, along with links to Vieng Thai's menu and to Robb Walsh's review from the Houston Press. Here's why.
As the Unique Culinary Adventures site was evolving, a major inspiration as well as influence was Robb Walsh's book, Are You Really Going to Eat That?: Reflections of a Culinary Thrillseeker, Perseus Books Group, New York, 2003. In his current capacity as food critic for the Houston Press, Mr. Walsh's review of Vieng Thai communicates my own thoughts regarding Vieng Thai with the benefit of more visits, more space, and a much better developed style of writing. Even so, I'm pleased to amplify Robb's review, which was entitled "Crab Shells and Stink Beans," with the picture at left---this one shot with my good camera---of fermented crab sauce. It's where the "crab shells" come from as related to Vieng Thai's Laotian version of som tum salad. In the interest of dental safety, Robb suggested skipping it in favor of Vieng Thai's Thai-style som tum salad. Next day, I'd be learning a lot more from Mr. Walsh directly.
For two days on my recent road trip, Mrs. Yi joined me in Houston to celebrate Valentines. On the first, Valentines Day, we joined our friends Victoria and Jay for lunch at Vieng Thai and enjoyed dinner at their home with more friends that night. On the next day, through serendipity if not synchronicity, I ended up hanging out with Robb Walsh himself for lunch at a restaurant he was reviewing and later in Houston's Chinatown. The crab sauce picture was taken as we walked the aisles of the enormous Asian market at Hong Kong Mall in Houston's Chinatown. Stay tuned.