Visiting Thai Vegan in Albuquerque, New Mexico felt a bit like visiting Stars Hollow, the fictional town in Gilmore Girls. In Stars Hollow there was a cast of unique characters, and one of my favorites was Kirk. Kirk was everywhere. He worked in the grocery store. He was a waiter, a dancer, a cashier and a filmmaker, a hockey announcer and a postal carrier. The gag of the show was that you didn’t know where Kirk would appear next and doing what job – oblivious to the absurdity of his situation. Kirk was a jack-of-all-trades – not unlike the chef at Thai Vegan – a host and a chef and even a sign repairman!
Thai Vegan had only recently opened when we visited, but there was still a good lunch crowd. The restaurant is located in a strip mall, casual but comfortable. As the server showed us to our table, I noticed the chef standing at another table and chatting with some diners who were finishing up. He asked how they liked their meals and they both gushed that it was excellent. He visited another table, and then he was off – back to the kitchen. While perusing the menu, I noticed that it was extremely similar to the many vegan Thai restaurants in Los Angeles with familiar names like Jungle Noodles and P.E.T.
After hours on the road, my husband and I were eager to start with an appetizer. We had the Veggie Dumplings, which were stuffed with vegetables and fried. The surrounding dough was a bit thicker and more dense than most potstickers, and it gave a pleasing texture and bite to them.
We ordered the Jungle Noodles, a favorite of mine, and Yellow Curry with tofu. The spicy, wide wheat noodles were very fresh, sautéed in a garlic sauce, and loaded with carrots, cabbage, mushrooms, bell peppers, and soy meat and topped with sweet basil. The dish was not at all oily, the way that stir-fried noodles sometimes can be and the flavor was bold and savory without being overpowering.
After we finished our meal, the chef was back to see if we enjoyed it. We couldn’t stop ourselves from raving, and he gave a little bow in thanks. As we were leaving, we noticed the chef yet again. This time he was standing on top of a vehicle with a drill and some glue, adjusting the sign over the restaurant. He affixed the letter “V”, careful to make it straight again. All in a day’s work!