Vatsana: Pawtuxet’s New Thai and Sushi Spot

 

IMG_3473The first thing you need to know about Vatsana is that it’s BYOB. This is an important detail, and one that I was missing on the Sunday night when my food friend, Jeremy, and I journied to Pawtuxet Village for Thai and sushi. I will save you from the disappointment I faced when I realized it was 6:30pm, and the liquor store that’s only one block away — Cork and Brew — had already closed.

Insider Tip: If you catch Cork and Brew while they’re open, they offer a 10% discount to patrons of Vatsana. And while you’re there buying wine, eyeing those decorated wine glasses, you may just find yourself signing up for a wine and paint night. Not that that’s happened to me before or anything.

Vatsana is the newest addition to the charming strip of downtown Pawtuxet Village, next door to Schasteâ, formerly known as — but also still known as — The Elephant Room. In fact, they even share the same red and green awning and interior two-floor design. The ground floor has a selection of tables and booths in all sizes, while the upstairs, where we sat, has uniform wooden booths and a take-out counter that seems lifted from a cafe: side wooden paneling, marble countertops, decorative figurines, and a red and gold lotus flower painted on the wall. The otherwise off-whitergb-IMG_9054 walls of the restaurant make the restaurant feel very open and bright, while orchids and ferns add additional touches of color.

Jeremy is the Thai expert, and I came because of the promise of sushi. Unfortunately — for me — I forgot that Jeremy doesn’t eat raw fish, or even so much as talk about seafood without squirming, so the 24-piece “sashimi lover” was out of the question. I did, however, opt for a spicy tuna roll since it’s my favorite, and it was a solid choice. (I will say, next time I plan to try the “Kiss Me I’m Thai” roll: shrimp tempura and cucumber on the inside, tuna, salmon, kani salad and spicy mayo on the outside.)

As a starter — this one for the two of us to share — Jeremy and I ordered steamed Thai dumplings. Our waitress also recommended the “Golden Bags” (an unfortunate name, in my opinion), saying they were the best crab rangoons she’d ever had, but I had to veto on account of cilantro. The dumplings alone, though, were enough to keep me coming back. They were topped with toasted crushed garlic, and the black mushroom and chicken filling was perfectly blended and cooked. I had already eaten my three before Jeremy finished his first.

For main entrees, Vatsana has traditional fare — pad Thai, fried rice, etc. — as well as many curry bowls. At our waitress’ recommendation, I tried the yellow chicken coconut curry. All of the coconut curries on the menu are adorned with little red chili peppers to denote spiciness, but the unexpected ingredient of the yellow curry, ie, pineapple, nicely contrasted the yellow curry (this dish merited its chili pepper icon).

IMG_7913Jeremy opted for the chicken pad Thai, which is his ruler for measuring all Thai restaurants, similar to the way in which I measure the authenticity of an Italian food by ordering a plain margherita pizza. I’ve never met a pad Thai I didn’t like, and this was no exception, so I asked Jeremy how it ranked on his Thai scale. He said he considered it a tie between this and his go-to Thai spot in Worcester, where he lives, so I took that to mean two thumbs up.

We managed to end on a sweet note, saving just enough room to follow the intriguing promise of honey fried bananas with ice cream. I was brought back immediately to my days at PF Chang’s, where I waited tables and I converted many guests into banana spring roll believers. This dessert was heaven on a plate, the bananas are sweet yet crispy, warm yet cool — the perfect dessert.

I’ve always thought Pawtuxet Village was a place of hidden gems, and it seems as though Vatsana has found a perfect home.

Vatsana, 2168 Broad St, Cranston

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