Visitors to this cramped but cheery storefront are handed two menus. One, no surprise, lists Thai dishes. The second — no longer a big secret — offers Laotian fare. For years now, I’ve filled up on the latter, partly because there aren’t many purveyors of food from Laos, but also because I can never get too much of the country’s distinctive heat.
The chicken wings burst with flavor from their marinade of lemongrass, soy sauce and ginger as well as their time on the grill. Shredded bamboo shoots tossed with ginger, garlic, mint and shallots, then dusted with toasted ground rice, is a salad like few others.
Owner Seng Luangrath, one of the restaurant’s two Laotian cooks, also keeps us in our seats with minced duck (larb ped) splashed with a dressing of chilies and lime, and a bowl of rice noodles, ground pork, coconut milk, chili paste and bean sprouts (mee kathi). The best way to beat the heat is to eat the fiery stuff with sticky rice, pinches of which can be rolled into little balls to mop up the sauces.
On my last trip here, I added to my usual Laotian feast shrimp cakes, lightly springy and laced with curry, and tapioca balls, a special of translucent dumplings stuffed with sweet ground pork, ground peanuts and shallots: two Thai treasures that prompt me to cross borders more often.