Over Christmas, I read about a new Lao cafe having just opened in Covent Garden and I was really excited to try it. Although I’ve never been to Laos, my parents lived there before moving to Burma, so I was eager to try some authentic local dishes.
The food is hotter and tangier than Thai food but equally delicious. I’m used to Thai food and I’m used to heat and hot food, but if you aren’t, please mention this to them as you want to be able to enjoy your food.
The staff are all really friendly and keen to introduce you to the food and culture, teaching you a few phrases which I have instantly forgotten!
For two people, they recommend two salads and two main dishes and for larger groups, they suggest one salad and one chargrilled dish per person and one curry or hot pot to share. There were just two of us and my friend had a large lunch so we had two salads a grilled dish (to be shared by two) and some sticky rice.
I love a good papaya salad, but I’m used to the Thai one and they had multiple varieties. I asked what the difference was between the Thai and Lao style and turns out that the Lao one is tangier, salty and hotter. I was advised to have the Thai one if I hadn’t tried the Lao style before. Next was a laab dry salad and whilst we weren’t keen on trying the boiler liver version, we did try the pork neck salad which was hot!
Our little table then had to try and find space for a whole salt grilled fish served with aubergine dip, vermicelli noodles and fresh herbs. This dish was for two people and the most succulent fish I’ve tried in a long time! We were taught how to eat it and we were supposed to have a bit of everything in each bite. So tasty!
All in all, I’d say to try and give this restaurant a visit, try a new cuisine and interact with the staff. You can’t book so you might have to expect a queue but we were lucky and found a table immediately. We washed this down with some wine as well but they do have some local beers and other beverages available too. I also loved the decor and the art on one of the walls, you almost felt you had left London for one night!