The very first time I came here was when we first moved to southern California a little over four years ago. A friend has found it and thought I might like it, and she was right. I remember that fateful night when five of us came and ordered a lot of food, ate, and went home very satisfied with our meal.
Since that night, I’ve come time and time again with different friends and on every visit we would sit in the tiny space, order our food and eat pretty much in an empty restaurant. I’ve often wondered how they survive, although I’ve seen a lot of take-out traffic, but even so, how is it that no one has discovered this little hidden gem serving up some very delicious food?
On a recent visit, I was surprised to find that the restaurant has had a major makeover. The little space is now three times as spacious and it is amazing what a new coat of paint and some new furniture can do for a place. The menu has been reprinted and everything about this place now shouts “I am ready for those unadventurous eaters to come inside”.
I’ve had a lot of the menu items such as the frogs legs and the mok pa, a steamed catfish dish with coconut milk and dill. My blogger friend Priscilla of the She’s Cookin’ blog who was with me on this recent trip was not interested in the mok pa because it has a gelatinous texture, so we ordered some other Lao dishes to share.
I was craving the crispy rice so we ordered that as well as Lao sausage and larb goong. Lao food and Thai food are similar but there are some marked differences. Lao food is not sweet like Thai food and it is not as spicy, although there are condiments on the table for you to add heat if you so wish. I love spicy foods so I am attacking this jar on the table of ground fresh chilis in a salty tart sauce.
Crispy rice here is absolutely stunning in that the crunchy texture of the rice is far better than what most Thai places offer.
Lao sausage is house-made and is crunchy on the outside, beautifully textured on the inside. The accompanying sauce is a must. Dip the sausage into the sauce and eat with a spoonful of sticky rice.
Sticky rice is a Lao specialty and is generally eaten in place of steamed Jasmine rice. If you prefer regular rice, order that with your food instead, but I do recommend the sticky for a complete Lao experience.
Portions aren’t big so you can order a variety of items to try. I think I’m definitely going to come back here again!!
Vientiane, 10262 Westminster Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92843. Tel: 714-530-7523