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May 21, 2004 02:01 PM

Mae Rasy Report (Lao in SD?)

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Thanks to Gayla's excellent directions, Mae Rasy was easy to find. It is very small, and the Vietnamese place next door (Mien Trung, I believe) had more business and featured $3.99 bun choices and bowls of congee at the same price. Mae Rasy had a very small selection of items for 2 or 3 item plus rice lunch special (I think 2 items plus rice was $3.75). Chris chose the chicken curry--which she thought was very good and spicy--and fried chicken--which was just ordinary fried chicken. I looked over various pictures and menus trying to find something that wasn't Thai. I ended up choosing Lard Nar, and then realized later that I had eaten it elsewhere under the name Lad Na (I think). The nice person behind the counter said it was both Thai and Lao. Their version was quite good. The noodles were thick and seemed to be both hand made and hand cut. The veggies were not overcooked, and the seafood was fine, if predictably shrimp, squid, and krab. The sauce was very nice and very spicy.

Finally, I secured a take-out menu and noticed a bunch of Laotian soups listed--kengs, I believe they were called. When I asked about them, the nice person behind the counter said that they had to be ordered a day in advance because the spicing was so complex and that they were no longer available by the bowl--instead one ordered enough to feed a large party, twenty or thirty dollars worth.

Anyway, the experience was good, but I don't know if they had anything available that was truly Laotian. Still, if a bunch of hounds wanted to share a huge amount of Laotian soup, this might be the place to go.


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  1. "I don't know if they had anything available that was truly Laotian."

    This is a late reply (about 4-5 years) but have you ever been to a Thai restaurant that was "truly Thai"? There's many Thai restaurants in the U.S. and not one Thai restaurant here is truly Thai. All standard Thai restaurant menus include Lao dishes and some "Thai" dishes are actually western creations loosely based on Thai cuisine. Similarly, Lao restaurant menus also include some Thai dishes. But most importantly, there are dishes that are shared by both cuisines since Laos and Thailand are neighboring countries. As far as American customers are concerned, it's common for patrons to assume that anything on Lao restaurant menus that resemble Thai menus must be Thai in origin, but in actuality there's a good chance that the dishes you thought were "Thai" (due to you having been exposed to Thai restaurants first) were actually Lao dishes all along, but were being incorrectly marketed as "Thai" by the owners of Thai restaurants. Most Americans aren't too familiar with Southeast Asia where Laos and Thailand are located. Therefore, Thai restaurant owners have no problems with incorporating dishes from neighboring countries like Laos and promoting them as "Thai" dishes because American customers are none the wiser.

    1 Reply
    1. re: savan

      wow. I'm always amazed when an old post of mine (with an old handle) gets recycled.

      Unfortunately, the restaurant is long gone.

      Your point about Thai/Lao food is very well taken. The Lao restaurant in SD that I now frequent (as much as I can frequent anything in SD) is Asia Cafe, and the menu there is pretty much full of Thai dishes. But it is still very good, and some of the stuff there like the Yum Asia and Nahm Kao are outstanding. They also fix more dishes than appear on their menu.

      And of course, Lotus of Siam in Vegas is famous for its Northern menu - and northern Thailand borders on Laos.

      Anyway, thanks for your insights. I have also been learning more about Lao food from some of the recent posts at Kirk's blog, such as this one: