Le Thai, a new Thai place downtown in Las Vegas, piqued our curiosity, and prompted us to wander in for lunch.  The casual atmosphere, warm and cozy little dining room, and gorgeous covered patio were perfect, as was the focused, legitimate menu, centered on Thai favorites such as Pad Thai, Drunken Noodles and Tom Yum Soup.  Could this be the next Lotus of Siam?

We started by ordering the Thai jerky- a perfectly fried and crispy-chewy version, balanced by a refreshingly spicy-sour sauce loaded with cilantro.  The sticky rice was also impressive- I don’t know how they create this chewy, glutenous texture within such masterfully separated grains of rice. Followed by the most succulent chicken wings ever, and just judging from the appetizers, it was love at first bite.

Le Thai’s Chicken Wings, accompanied by a playful Siracha-laced ranch dressing.

We followed the appetizers with an order of Tom Yum Soup.  It was balanced, spicy (perfectly spiked at level 3/5), and full of fresh mushrooms, tomatoes and succulent pieces of pork.

The Pad Thai was also excellent- an elegant tangle of rice noodles and cold, crunchy bean sprouts.  The sauce was slicked throughout the dish, coating everything so that the noodles slid around the plate instead of clumping together.  The aromas were bold and unapologetically Thai- funky fish sauce matched earthy, nutty peanuts, while on the palate everything was highlighted by a bright, citrusy note- probably a squeeze of fresh lime.

In my mind, the only thing that keeps Le Thai from competing with Lotus of Siam is the lack of a serious wine list.  I understand Le Thai’s concept is less formal and perhaps less serious, but that doesn’t preclude a focused, interesting wine list, right?  A nice glass of Terlano Gewurztraminer perhaps, or a glass of bubbly Bisol Prosecco?  This is the kind of food that craves a little vino Italiano- or maybe that’s just me.