Ventiane Asian Grocery
I happened into Ventiane Asian Grocery on MLK this weekend. This report accurately describes the scene: http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/voraci...
However, since this was published last year, Ventiane has opened a small cafe inside with hot-food selections available (for these items "no food stamps," though). I did not have a chance to try them, but I did take a container of pork meat and skin laab to go, along with some chili sauce, as well as coil of Lao sausage. I have not cooked the sausage yet, but the laab was quite good, as good as what one might get at Vieng Thong.
Will be returning soon to try some of the hot items. Language continues to be an issue, and many of my questions about what the concoctions on display consisted of met with just befuddlement and laughter.
The rainy day drew me down MLK looking for a hot soup for lunch. The initial plan was for bun bo hue at Hoang Lan, but the novelty-seeker in me took a hard right back into the Ventiane lot. I had a sit-down lunch of "Laos rice noodle soup," which featured a light colored simple broth thickened with starch or egg, chopped chicken, udon-like noodles, blood cubes, a peppery oil drizzle, and scallions. The server invited me to dose the soup with a tray of chile, fish sauce and various other condiments. I found the soup very toothsome and fortifying, if simple.
I noticed that Ventiane had added more descriptive tags to the many prepared items on display, however only some had english names and several had only Lao script. Again, my inquires about these provoked confusion and laugther, esp. where they happened to include offal or combinations thought to be odd to me. One was said to be "beetle soup." I selected dark green Lao bamboo soup, duck soup, and something which was described as a sort of laab-style salad made with fish. Will report back on these.
I returned to Vientiane Grocery (I misspelled the name in OP) looking for a produce item and decided to stay for lunch. It has rearranged its interior cafe area and now has a printed menu (attached). To my eye it is likely the broadest Lao-specific slate in the area at the moment.
I was in the mood for sour sausage, which was served with a smoky chile paste and a basket of sticky rice. Savory and satisfying. There was a staff meal ongoing while I was there and several of the items looked intriguing, especially the rice vermicelli in spicy coconut milk soup (khao poun).