Fans of sweet and spicy Thai food in Wethersfield took note when Puket Cafe shut down at the end of last year. Thai food isn't as ubiquitous as pizza around here. So many were pleased at the opening of Mint Thai Cuisine in the spot (not far from Starbucks) where Puket once was.
The interior has been redone (they're still fine-tuning the details), with a more sleek feel and darker wood floors. The menu has been stripped down, with a curated selection of items (say between four and nine) in every subsection (salads, noodles, soups, sides, seafood and curries), plus almost a dozen noteworthy house specials, such as pan-fried egg with ground pork, or curry with long bean and pepper.
Thai food makes creative and delicious use of creamy coconut milk, pungent curry pastes, the eye-opening citrusy flavors of lime leaf, such beguiling ingredients as galangal root and lemongrass, and that playful balance of peanuts and hot peppers. The kitchen at Mint doesn't shy away from any of these. (The plant, mint, by the way, is a relative of basil, that holy herb in the Thai kitchen, and it too is used to refreshing effect in southeast Asian cuisine.)
A veggie curry puff appetizer ($3.49 for three) resembled something like a Thai twist on an Indian samosa, a sort of fritter stuffed with potatoes and other seasoned vegetables. This had a puff pastry exterior and a dipping sauce punctuated with a sweet peanut flavor. Tom kha soup will satisfy those who enjoy thick, sweet and creamy coconut milk. Lunch specials in the $9 to $10 range come bento-box style, with a choice of meat, edamame, salad and fried spring rolls.
The sriracha noodles, a favorite from the old Puket Cafe menu, at the moment are not offered at Mint. One could speculate that the much-tweeted-about sriracha shortage anticipated for early 2014 might have something to do with this. But that hot-sauce crisis has reportedly been averted, so perhaps heat-seekers can hope to see the menu at Mint adjusted accordingly. In the meantime, the condiment tray still includes many tongue-blistering chili pastes and sauces.
MINT is at 1030 Silas Deane Highway in Wethersfield. Hours are daily from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Information: 860-529-7906.