Khe-Yo. Your Laotian Fix
- Ziggy41 Jul 31, 2013 08:05 PM
Just came back from Marc Forgione's new place in Tribeca. He now has places in Both Duane and Reade streets (Ok, it sounded more meaningful in my head). Executive chef is Laos born Soulayphet Schwader showcasing perhaps the city's first Laotian inspired cuisine. You can find Lao inventions like green papaya salads in Thai places all over the city but I'm not aware of a Laotian place quite like Khe-yo. But that's enough of me pretending I know anything about Lao cooking. I just came to Tribeca to have a falafel. A least that was the initial plan.
They start you off with a bang here. Sticky rice comes with 2 fantastic condiments and a prolonged explanation on how to best enjoy the sticky rice. Eating with your fingers. Dip it in the Heirloom puree or the addictively sick spicy sauce made with 4 different Thai chilis, cilantro, fish sauce and garlic.
The menu only has 5 apps, 5 entrees, and a few salads. Crunchy Coconut Rice with with Spicy Kafﬁr Lime Sausage was good and original (to me at least). Like delicious sweet rice balls. I just wished there were a bit more sausages. Jurgielewicz Duck salad was even better. Nicely done freshly butchered (24 hour) duck along with lightly fried crunchy duck tongue, lemongrass, nice palm sugar vinegar, and jalapeno skins to balance things out. Nice start
Berkshire Spare Ribs were just ok. A bit fatty for my taste and on the salty side. But I liked the accompanying cold long beans salad. Pork Jowl Red Curry was more like it. Like a super delicious mild pork stew with tasty grilled shiitake mushrooms and baby eggplant on the side.
Dessert menu consists of a coconut rice pudding with sliced peach and cashew bits which was fine, and a pricey native cocktail ($13). A fine meal overall. I would love to come back and explore the rest of the menu, like the whole black bass and the chicken. Marc told me since they opened 2 days ago 15 Lao natives told him how thrilled they were with this place. Check it out
Tucked into the NYT review of Khe-Yo:
Meanwhile, diners hungry to try a few Lao dishes in unreconstructed form can go a few blocks south to Mangez Avec Moi at 71-73 West Broadway, (212) 385-0008. Its name isn’t promising, nor is its “authentic pan-Asian cuisine” tagline. But after 4 p.m., the chef, Jeannie Ongkeo, sends out a short Lao menu.
Her papaya salad hummed with fresh chilies and fermented seafood, and her nam kao, a crispy rice salad with shredded coconut, had a taut balance of hot, sour, salty and sweet. My favorite was “or stew,” a murky bowl of slippery mushrooms and eggplant cooked with Kaffir lime, lemon grass and branches of fresh dill. It was the first time I’ve tasted flavors quite like it, but I hope not the last.
The condiments sound like jeow, which are common Lao dipping pastes- they are actually like salsas or Thai nam prik dips.
I just visited Laos a few months ago and I'm excited about this place. The fluke and banana flower laap (laap-pa) sounds great. Looking forward to checking this out.
The place is always packed. People with reservations had to wait a good while before seated. The place is one of the loudest places around. Most of the crowd were in their late 20s and early 30s. I only had a couple of dishes and I will be back to try more. The sticky rice is complimentary. The hot chili sauce was very good, the tomato mild chili sauce was tasteless. The eating rice with your fingers is a Lao and Issan thing, but it certainly doesn't make the rice taste better. The sticky rice was pretty good, I ate it with chopsticks.
The spareribs i ate with my hands. That's American style haha. Anyway, the ribs were a little dry and undercooked. That may sound like how can that be possible, but the meat was dry and if cooked longer it would have come off the bone easier. My ribs were not fatty at all. The seasoning was very much like several Vietnamese and Thai restaurants . The ribs are better at Indochine and also much better at Uncle Boon's. But I'll try them again. The portions were good size. The accompanying long beans that Ziggy mentioned was awesome. Somewhat spicy and very tasty. The crispy pork roll, that you roll in lettuce and rice noodles and veggies was very good, but not out of the ordinary, except the lettuce was of excellent quality. The dessert was another variation of the rice pudding , it was topped with almonds and strawberries and very delicious. The Vietnamese coffee they like serving it iced.
Went last night. It's a nice place but overall needs more funk and heat to be really impressive. Sweet service but we had to wait a bit despite our reservation, and they had a hard time keeping water glasses filled. We sat in a booth at the front of the restaurant--was cold and drafty despite the space heater. Atmosphere is hip, loud, young.
Liked the raw kampachi with kafir lime (simple, tasty) and the beef jerky (though the blob of chili paste was hard to pick up). Papaya salad lacked funk and heat, overall too sweet. (Made me miss Pok Pok's or Zabb's.) Coconut rice balls were surprisingly sugary.
Liked the skewered and deboned quail. Very tender and flavorful. Short ribs braised in ginger and lemongrass, with mushrooms, were delicious. Pork spare ribs were also good but I had a hard time chewing through mine, as I got a slightly tough one. Long bean salad was a nice touch but I didn't feel like the flavors really came together. Chili prawns were also good, with a delicious sauce.
Lao Lao with pineapple cognac was lame, was hoping for a bolder cocktail. Did not deliver.
Overall the food is good but not relevatory, and slightly overpriced. $125 with tip for our share with two cocktails (split the bill down the middle, party of 4).
Khe Yo... sounds familiar. Oh ye, I remember now.
The place is somewhat forgettable is what I'm trying to say. When people ask for reccos in that area I never think of it. While there are so many places I would rush back to like Ssam, Ma Peche, this one may have to wait a little more. But the somewhat different menu looks intriguing
Nice review Kathryn
Thanks for the review. The consistency of the place varies. However, they are consistent ,in that their ribs are always hard to chew. The heat on the papaya salad varies from very spicy to not at all. I had very tasty oysters with lime and chili there. The food is decent, IMO, not spectacular. The bar is good for single diner to eat at. They are open for lunch these days, and serve the Bahn mi.
I go there probably twice a month, as it is convenient for me. I tried the Lao/Thai place again recently called Mangez aver moi" on W Bway. They added a Lao menu, as the owner chef is Lao. The food was more Lao-zee than Lao.