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Where to find a Lao restaurant ?

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I would like to know if there is a good Lao restaurant in Manhattan or around there, not too far... Thanks a lot !

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  1. m
    mary shaposhnik

    As far as I can tell, NOBODY has found one yet. I've been asking this since I joined Chowhound. Your closest thing would be to find a Thai restaurant run by people from the Issan region, where many Lao people live (in fact, more Lao live in Thailand than in Laos). I strongly suspect that many Lao might call their restaurant a Thai restaurant just to get customers, but who knows. The Bronx would probably be the best place to hunt, but I don't know anything more specific. I once thought that the people who run Mangez Avec Moi, on W. Broadway, were Lao, but never checked it out, and their food wasn't Lao anyway.

    I'd love to be proven wrong on all this...

    8 Replies
    1. re: mary shaposhnik
      m
      Melanie Wong

      Issan = Lao

      The ancient Lao kingdom included modern day Laos plus much of northeastern Thailand, a region called Issan. The Lao-speaking people who live in that region are also referred to as Issan.

      Out here in the SF Bay Area, what you suspect is true. Many restaurant owners/staff are Lao/Thai Issan, but they call their restaurants "Thai".

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        so whats typical lao fare?

        1. re: sleazo

          khao niaw (sticky rice), tam maak hung (papaya salad), keng kai (chicken galanga soup), larp pa (minced fish with lemon grass), phad phak bong (stir fried morning glory), keng no mai (bamboo sprout soup), mok pa (fish steamed in banana leaves), ping kai (BBQ chicken), sai kok (sausages) ... + lao interpretation of thai food like tom yam etc ...

          and all of this is spicy and delicious !
          :-)

          1. re: etapbeta

            Many of the dishes that you just mentioned are served at Sripraphai.

            1. re: etapbeta

              It's a common misconception that dishes served at Thai restaurants are all Thai. What people think of Thai food is actually a combination of various cuisines...On Thai restaurant menus, there's actually quite a number of Lao dishes (larb salad, lao sausage but renamed "Thai sausage", BBQ chicken, etc...) as well as Malaysian (i.e. satay or sate), Indian (i.e. yellow chicken curry), Chinese (i.e. eggrolls, chowfun: pad-si-ew), etc.

              Also, your comment regarding Tom Yum soup, "+ lao interpretation of thai food like tom yam", implies that Laotians came up with their own version based on the Thai soup...however, Tom Yum soup is also believed to be a Thai interpretation of a Lao chicken or catfish soup...so there are quite a number of views as to the origins of Lao and Thai dishes since they are similar to one another.

              Whatever the case may be, I love eating both Lao and Thai foods... =)

              and oh, you're right on the money as far as the rest of the dishes you have listed...your comment is making me hungry!...hehe...thanks for sharing.

              1. re: etapbeta

                Zabb City is an Issan restaurant (it even says it on the onning) on 13th st

                im not a thai expert, but i eat here fairly often as my gf and i really like it. It sometimes gets mixed reviews on this board, but i think you need to know what to order...from what i gathered about Issan food i stuck to things like the pork laab, stick rice, papaya salad etc and ive found those to be really good. Other stuff like a red or green curry that i might get at any other thai restaurant have just been so so

                1. re: Lau

                  agreed...Zaab City is prob the closest thing you'll get to Lao cooking in Manhattan...the pork laab was prob the best i've had in the NYC area, and the somdam wasn't bad...some of the other dishes are hit or miss...

                2. re: etapbeta

                  "keng luc mai" is actually the bamboo shoot soup, which translates roughly as "stewed baby shoots". the "luc mai" referring to the tender young bamboo shoots. there is also a variation on the dish called "keng dac mai" which supplements young bamboo shoots with local mushrooms.

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              1. Here's a hail mary even if it's way off the path. Some years ago in the DC area there was a Lao place in Wheaton which I never made it to. In Falls Church there was a Thai-Lao place that wasn't base but I can't remember any details. If any one finds a place please post.

                1. Here's a hail mary even if it's way off the path. Some years ago in the DC area there was a Lao place in Wheaton which I never made it to. In Falls Church there was a Thai-Lao place that wasn't base but I can't remember any details. If any one finds a place please post.