I recently was introduced to Thai and Lao Bistro by a chef friend of mine; nested in a nondescript strip mall by Regency Square I could not help but think why now? I lived in that area 20 + years and if one were in search of something without a brand name you would be out of luck. Now I find myself driving across town to eat here it’s that good. As my friends and readers know I would eat Asian food every day of the week so I was quite interested in being introduced to Loa food which is in short supply here in Jacksonville unless you are fortunate enough to have Lao friends who would invite you to their house.
Owned and operated by three sisters, the restaurant is beautifully appointed, staff friendly and informative. They are more than happy to assist the uninitiated to traverse the menu to find the perfect dish for them; let’s look at the food.
We started with the Khao Piak Sen (rice noodle) Chicken Soup. Better than anything my Jewish mother ever made, the soup consists of homemade rice noodles, freshly fried garlic, and scallions. Hands down one of the richest broth I have ever experienced. The noodles were perfectly cooked and just right for slurping.
Khao Piak Sen
Moving on the obligatory Spring Roll was next on the agenda, we chose the fried variety stuffed with chicken and an assortment of vegetables served with a sweet plum dipping sauce. The rolls were housed in a pleasant crispy wrapper, full of chicken and assorted vegetables.
Another must order item the Pan Fried Dumplings. These may have been my least favorite of all the food we tried, a bit on the dry side that even the accompanying dipping sauce could not cure.
We joyously dug into the Lapp Beef Salad, served on a cold crispy iceberg wedge; the minced beef was mixed with rice powder, red onion, lime juice then kicked up a notch on the heat scale at our request. Perfectly balanced in flavor we demolished this in no time at all.
Lapp Beef Salad
No, Asian meal is complete unless I have noodles, so the Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Noodles) was our choice, the mixture of wide rice noodles stir-fried with egg, onions, celery, jalapeno and fresh Thai basil. This noodle offering is a traditional Thai dish that seems always to satisfy even the pickiest of diners.
Pad Kee Mao
We just had one more item to indulge in the home-made Coconut Ice Cream a large scoop served with Matcha Sticky Rice, Fried Banana, and Cookie. You can look at the picture and make up your mind.
Homemade Ice Cream
I am slowly making my way through the Lao side of the menu, and will continue to make the drive to Thai and Lao; the distance is well worth the reward