HOLMEN — Pa Houa Vang and her husband, Chao Thao, say they’re happy about the customer response to their decision to add to restaurant variety in Holmen.

Vang and Thao opened the Taste of Thai restaurant on Sept. 4 in Suite 106 at 205 S. Holmen Drive.

The restaurant, which Vang said features authentic Thai cuisine, is in the same multi-tenant building that houses Holmen Ace Hardware & Rental.

Erik Daily, La Crosse Tribune
Taste of Thai appetizers Shrimp Blankets, top, Egg Rolls, left, and Crab Rangoon.

“Business has been good,” Vang said. “Our main goal is customer service. We want to satisfy everyone who comes in.

“We’ve lived in Holmen for seven years and noticed there hasn’t been a lot of variety in restaurants here,” Vang said. That, and the fact that her husband wanted to have his own business, prompted them to open Taste of Thai.

“Everyone seems to enjoy the taste and flavor of our food,” Vang said. “Hopefully in the future we’ll expand” by opening a second restaurant, possibly in the Valley View Mall area or in Winona, Minn., she said.

Vang and Thao had looked at possible restaurant locations in La Crosse, Onalaska and Holmen for about two years before settling on the Holmen Drive spot. It’s on a main highway with high traffic counts, and its dining room is bright and attractive, Vang said.

The restaurant is relatively small and can seat about 30 people inside, as well as about 20 more outside from spring through fall. “We’ll put up lighting outside for next year and make it a little more romantic,” Vang said of outdoor dining.

Vang and Thao were born in Thailand and have worked in several restaurants over the years. Thao moved from Thailand to the La Crosse area in 1992. Vang moved from Thailand to California in 1994 and to the La Crosse area in 1995.

Thao works at the restaurant full time as chef. He had worked at the Ashley Furniture warehouse in La Crosse for about two years before leaving that job to open the Holmen restaurant.

“I have a passion for cooking the food that I love,” he said, adding that he also enjoys teaching employees about the restaurant business. The restaurant has about 10 employees.

Vang has a full-time job as a radiologic technologist at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse and works part time at the restaurant. The couple’s oldest son, Chimeng Thao, is 16 and also occasionally works there.

Some of the restaurant’s most popular appetizers include egg rolls and crab rangoon, while a Lao-style papaya salad is one of its most popular salads.

Some of Taste of Thai’s most popular entrees are Thai fried rice, pad thai, pad woon sen and pad kee mao (drunken noodle) chicken. The most popular desserts are fried banana and sticky rice with mango.

Taste of Thai soon will offer Thai ice cream rolls -- a trendy new menu item in Thailand and more recently in the U.S. The restaurant will offer 10 flavors of ice cream rolls.

Popular beverages include several kinds of beer (including two brands from Thailand and one from Laos), several wines, including Elmaro Vineyards wine from rural Trempealeau, a dozen flavors of bubble tea and soda pop. Hot tea soon will be available.