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Vientiane Thai Laos

This is my first restaurant "review" since I didn't see anything pop up on the search for this place. I found this place on the other website that starts with a y, and it was delicious. The guy loves Thai and I wanted to go somewhere new. Total hole in the wall cozy joint (fits right in with all the other mom n pop's in Garden Grove) with delicious, authentic, home style food. There's about 4-5 tables that can fit maybe 20 people max. The owner who served us was really nice and he said wants to add a few more things to the menu before printing out some takeout menus. You can tell people come here for authentic grub and the prices were fantastic, no more than $7 per dish, we spent $22 on food for 3 dishes including a Thai coffee. Nice little find in the land of Vietnamese cuisine, I'll be back! Here's what we had:

Beef Jerky: At other places, the meat is more of a rectangular dice, but here it's thin cut. Just like having big hunks of beef jerky fried up with a yummy dipping sauce. I might try the crying tiger next time if I want more of the steak style beef.

Pad Thai: Pretty standard here, not much chicken or egg in the dish, but there were green onions. It's not usually my fave dish, but it was a little sweeter, so the guy gobbled it up.

Crispy fried rice: Loved it! This is almost like a crispy rice salad since it doesn't come piping hot. I looove crispy rice and it's delicious here, not burnt and with a garlicky kick. They throw in some type of pork skin and "sour pork" which looks like ham but is only slightly sour, as if it's been kissed with citrus. I really liked this dish, even better than Thai Nakorn's nam sod with crispy rice! Comes with lettuce and cilantro to wrap, nice and refreshing!

They've got Lao sausage and sticky rice along with some more authentic Lao dishes I need to try next time!

Vientiane Thai Laos
10262 Westminster Avenue
Garden Grove, CA 92843

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  1. >>Crispy fried rice: Loved it! This is almost like a crispy rice salad since it doesn't come piping hot. I looove crispy rice and it's delicious here, not burnt and with a garlicky kick. They throw in some type of pork skin and "sour pork" which looks like ham but is only slightly sour, as if it's been kissed with citrus. I really liked this dish, even better than Thai Nakorn's nam sod with crispy rice! Comes with lettuce and cilantro to wrap, nice and refreshing!

    That's one of my favorite Lao appetizers...it's a dish called Nam Khao. Some people like it on the softer side, but I prefer it with lots of crispy chunks of rice in it and some soft grains of rice as well.

    >>Beef Jerky: At other places, the meat is more of a rectangular dice, but here it's thin cut. Just like having big hunks of beef jerky fried up with a yummy dipping sauce.

    As far as the beef jerky is concerned, there's two common types of Lao beef jerky. One type is called Siin Savanh (sweet beef jerky covered with sesame seeds and rectangular in shape) and the other type is called Siin Lod (skinny stick-like beef jerky that's on the salty side). Both types are technically "Siin Haeng" (dried beef), but whenever it is sweet it's usually referred to as Siin Savanh (aka "Heavenly Beef"). The dipping sauce is usually a Lao tomato chutney sauce (Jaew Maak Len) or a simple sauce made from chilies and fish sauce. Anyway, based on your description of the beef jerky, it sounds like you had either Siin Savanh or a thin cut of Siin Haeng. Did you eat it with sticky rice? (the traditional Lao way).

    6 Replies
    1. re: yummyrice

      Thanks for the insight, this was my first time with authentic Lao cuisine. I didn't end up getting any sticky rice, thought that is eaten more with the Lao sausage, but I'll try it next time I'm there! I liked that the Nam Khao is crunchy here, I love the crunchy slightly burnt rice at the bottom of the pan :)

      1. re: groover808

        You're welcome. I'm glad you decided to try authentic Lao cuisine. As a reminder, sticky rice is usually eaten with everything that doesn't already include rice as a main ingredient (i.e. fried rice, nam khao, etc...) or anything that's not a noodle dish, etc... Even Lao papaya salad is meant to be eaten with sweet sticky rice. You should definitely try the Lao beef jerky with sticky rice. The sticky rice is meant to be dipped into the dipping sauce that comes with the Lao beef jerky. Pairing Lao beef jerky with sticky rice is like pairing pastrami with rye bread. It's a winning combination, especially with the Lao dipping sauce.

        1. re: yummyrice

          This makes my mouth water. I lived in Laos as a kid (missionary parents) and for me "comfort food" is laap and sticky rice. There are a couple other dishes I have been craving, and I wonder if yummyrice or anyone else can help me find them.

          There was a village near Thakek in central Laos that was famous for it's barbecued chicken. (ping gai) It was red in color, and was grilled over really hot charcoal. It was better than any gai yang I have had at any Thai place, but similar. Any ideas?

          Also, I miss the sticky rice steamed inside a stick of bamboo. You peel the bamboo off the outside, and the rice comes out shaped like a sausage and covered with the membrane from inside the bamboo. It was lightly sweetened, and the bamboo gave it a wonderful herbal flavor. Mmmmm.

          1. re: LAchowman

            Wow! Those are dishes that are hard to find here in the states.

            That bamboo log dessert stuffed with coconut sticky rice and black beans or taro is known as "Khao lam".

            Here's a pic of it (to the right of the Lao sausages):
            http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_Pu3i6-aXKFs...

            Here's another pic:
            http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Pu3i6-aXKFs...

            As far as the Ping Gai (grilled chicken) is concerned, I have yet to find a Lao restaurant that serves something as specific as that Thakhek specialty.

            1. re: yummyrice

              Thanks for the pictures, yummyrice. That brings back good memories! The Khao lam I remember is just coconut sticky rice without the beans or taro, and it was really delicious. ("Khao" is rice, but what does "lam" mean in this context?)

              I guess it is not reasonable to hope to find the exact dish I remember from an obscure village in Laos! Short of that, do you have any suggestions about who has really good Ping Gai? Hope springs eternal....

              1. re: LAchowman

                You're welcome. It's interesting to me that although you're not Lao, your comfort food is larb and sticky rice...that's awesome! =)

                Yes, "Khao" means rice and "Laam" just means roasted in bamboo stalk...hehe. However, in another tone "Laam" also means spread (i.e. spread like fire).

                As far as Ping Gai is concerned, my aunt makes the best Ping Gai in the world. =) so I can't really recommend a restaurant from my own personal experience. However, if you're ever in San Francisco, there's an Asian fusion restaurant called Lingba that serves grilled Lao-style ‘free range’ chicken marinated with black pepper and coriander and served with papaya salad and sticky rice for around $15. I've never tried it before but I've heard great reviews about it. It's worth a shot.

                http://www.lingba.com

                -----
                Lingba Lounge
                1469 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94107

    2. Yum! That beef jerky dish is amazing! Here's another review of Vientiane Thai Laos with pictures:
      http://manbitesworld.com/articles/33/...

      can you tell from the pics which kind of jerky it is, yummyrice?

      5 Replies
      1. re: mollyomormon

        Thanks for sharing that link! Based on the picture, it looks like your basic Siin Haeng (salty beef jerky), whereas Siin Savanh "Heavenly Beef" (sweet beef jerky) looks a tad more delicate and is covered with lots of sesame seeds.

        Anyway, you still haven't answered my question. =) Did you try the beef jerky with sticky rice? It's actually not an appetizer, but should be eaten as part of the main meal.

        By the way, it's funny to me whenever I hear someone mention that they think Larb (when made the traditional Lao way) is too salty or aggressively seasoned like what was mentioned in that article you found. The writer of that article (I'm not sure if you wrote it or someone else) was complaining about the saltiness of the Larb but then he continued on by saying that he thought it balanced quite nicely with the lettuce that accompanied the dish. I'm surprised that the waiter didn't tell him (or you) that he was supposed to have eaten the Larb with some sticky rice? You know, the Lao way which is: "salty" Larb + "sweet" Sticky Rice = DELICIOUS! =)

        They help to counterbalance one another and that's how Larb is meant to be eaten.

        1. re: yummyrice

          In fact, Lao people eat with their hands by using sticky rice to scoop up larb and other dishes.

          1. re: aventinus

            That is correct. Many Lao dishes are "aggressively seasoned" (aka on the salty side) because they are usually eaten with sweet sticky rice by using our hands. Chopsticks, forks and spoons are only used for noodle dishes, soups, and regular steamed rice.

            Anyway, I meant to ask Groover (not Mollyomormon) about eating Lao beef jerky with sticky rice...my bad. =)

          2. re: yummyrice

            The waiter never mentioned to us (I'm not the writer of manbitesworld but I was there for the meal) that was the proper way to enjoy larb but I'm glad to know now. I'd love to go back and try it again because the food (aside from the catfish, which was a little too muddy tasting for my tastes) was delicious.

            1. re: mollyomormon

              You will love how warm sticky rice goes so well with larb. You can control the saltiness level by only scooping just enough of the larb with the sticky rice (shaped into a small flattened morsel) so as not to overpower your taste buds with the larb. Then after every several bites of the sticky rice-larb combination, you should cleanse your palate by taking a bite of the accompanied vegetables like cucumber, etc... and/or a delicately seasoned Lao soup to help wash down the larb seasonings off of your tongue. The soups I would recommend with larb would be either Gaeng Jeud (plain pork-tofu soup) or Gaeng Keung Nai (beef innards soup). Don't order tangy Lao soups like Tom Sua Gai (hot and sour shredded chicken) and Tom Yum (tangy soup) because they're going to compete with the "aggressively seasoned" larb. A traditional Lao meal is all about balancing the dishes with one another and therefore they should complement one another rather than compete with another dish.