By CARLOS GALLEGO
AAP staff writer
Nikki Orlay and Tonni Phimmyvong are the enthusiastic new owners of Vientiane, a Laotian and Thai cuisine hot spot for the past ten years. Nikki is Cambodian and Chinese and Tonni is Lao. As they enter their third month, they have adjusted menu based on customer comments as well as the specialties of their chefs. Shortly they will offer weekend specials in addition to their luncheon menu. Their weekend specials will include fried fish with special sauce, Bun Chau, Special rice soup and Salmon laab.
In many restaurants, it is common to eat a dish one day and order the same dish and have it taste differently. In order to ensure consistency and high quality the chefs are cross-training one another. Vientiane has two chefs, one focuses on entrees and soups while the other specializes on the main dishes.
Nikki teamed up with her best friend Tonni whose family had over ten years experience managing a restaurant in California. The restaurant has many popular dishes. Another unique attribute of this restaurant is its diverse audience. Over the lunch hour, it many draws customers from the local businesses however, during weekend and evening hours the majority of the customers are Asians from through the Twin Cities, a testimony to the authenticity of the dishes as well as the ambience. Their Rad Na is popular among all their audiences. Rad Na consists of square noodles that are fried with steamed Chinese broccoli and topped with the chef’s special white sauce.
Although Nikki is full of energy she is also quite modest. When ordering spring rolls during my first of two visits in doing the story she proclaimed that no one can go wrong while preparing Spring Rolls. Actually, I have been to several restaurants in which the texture of the spring roll was rubbery or the shrimp mushy. This is NOT the case at Vientiane they take great pride their Spring Rolls. They are made with fresh ingredients and the sauce in my opinion has the perfect mix of condiments.
The restaurant seats 45 and while their size does not allow them to do private functions or cater events, they are able to do party trays. Nikki primarily works the day shift which means in addition to managing the lunch rush she is responsible for the ordering supplies, marketing and deliveries, and the endless details of running a restaurant. What she most enjoys a restaurant is interacting with customers. Nikki and Tonni are striving to as her and her friend look to make it the best it can be.
This restaurant is perfect whether it be for a quick lunch, romantic conversation with Bubble tea or dinner with friends or family.
Vientiane is located at 5600 Bass Lake Rd. Crystal, MN. 763- 537-5575