I’ve mentioned before in this blog that the Burlington, Vermont area is blessed to have so many quality Thai restaurants. But I knew I had not even tried the one that was reputed to be the best: Tiny Thai. Not that I was avoiding it (I would never avoid good Thai food), but neither of its locations is on my daily route, and none of my friends ever suggested going there. (I rarely eat out alone when I’m at home, because I’m always trying to save my money for travel, and it’s cheaper to cook from scratch.) But the other day, I happened to be shopping at the Essex Outlets, where Tiny Thai has one of its two locations (the other is in Winooski), so when my stomach started growling, I made a beeline for the restaurant.
It was around 2pm, and the place was nearly deserted. The waitress immediately led me to the very table I’d been eyeing from outside, a two-top in a corner by the window at the front of the restaurant. This was a prime people-watching spot. I was pleased that she gave me that table without me having to ask for it. That shows intuition on the part of the waitstaff. Other than that, the two waitresses I interacted with were polite, efficient and pleasant enough, but not overly friendly and certainly not chatty.
The lunch menu offered a three “course” lunch for $7.50 (one of the courses was a beverage). I ordered the iced tea (a regular Lipton, how boring of me), the Gyoza appetizer, and the Ginger Chicken stir-fry. While waiting for it to arrive, I watched the kids on the sidewalk chasing each other and riding skateboards, and looked around the restaurant at the decor. It was nicely decorated, with Asian touches, but still simple enough to be comfortable for people who are out shopping for the day.
But who cares what the place looked like? The food was to die for! I bow down to the champion of Thai food in the Burlington, Vermont area (and probably the entire state of Vermont). The food arrived on a platter, not a plate. The gyoza–a single dumpling–sat beside the ginger chicken. The gyoza was tasty–moist but not falling apart–and sat in a puddle of lemon-flavored broth, which I later soaked up with the mound of sticky rice that came with the ginger chicken. There was also a little pile of greens on the side.
The ginger chicken was, quite simply, a dish I could eat every day for the rest of my life. I’ve never had Thai food this good. The ginger sauce didn’t overpower the vegetables at all, yet the flavors packed such a punch, my tastebuds were dancing with glee. Along with the tenderest little medallions of chicken, this dish featured crisp-tender green beans, mushrooms, sprouts, and cute little carrot slices that had been cut with something into a starburst pattern. I gobbled this food up like I was starving, yet I could still only eat half the platter. Which made me quite happy, since I could bring home the other half for dinner and have the joy of eating it all over again.
So with all due respect, no other Thai restaurant in the area can hold a candle to Tiny Thai. The quality and portion sizes of the food is only surpassed by the low, low prices. This just became my new favorite go-to restaurant. I would gladly drive 30 minutes round-trip to get takeout from Tiny Thai (and probably will).