Laos: Spicy Gourmet (guest post)

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The first question I asked when we ordered at Thip Khao was how hot the food was. I asked if the dishes listed as spicy were authentically hot. I’ve never gotten confirmation of this but I’m pretty confident that restaurants will sometimes tone down the high heat to make the food more broadly appealing. Completely understandable from a business perspective, but not what I was looking for in this case.

I was reassured that they have a level of heat on the menu called Phet E’Lee or Lao hot. Believe me, they did not disappoint. Now, I flew too high and both my wings and a part of my tongue melted, but don’t leave without getting at least one dish Lao hot.

Beyond the spice, these were the sorts of dishes that were so complex and flavorful that they make staples of the American diet like burgers and fries seem bland by comparison. Not to mention the variety of textures.

Do yourself a favor and start with the larb duck. Larb is basically a minced meat salad that is considered to be the national dish of Laos. Larb is also a good introduction to that spice I mentioned earlier since it’s on the hotter side without taking your face off like a horrible/amazing Nic Cage movie.

Next, let’s get a little weird with it. Grab the yum hu moo, otherwise known as steamed pig’s ear. Don’t let the description put you off, we’re essentially talking about the best pork rinds you’ve ever had. Get after it.

I’m not sure where you want to fit this in the meal but one of the best dishes at Thip Khao is the naem khao crispy rice salad. Crispy rice, coconut, lime and pickled pork…what’s not to enjoy?

-Michael Devito

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