I started writing this while I was sitting on the plane ride home and I decided not to post it until today…This past weekend I accompanied my mother to DC for my lil cousin Hannah’s wedding.  I was quickly reminded how amazing my mother’s side of the family is and where I get my hospitality skills from….

The moment we landed, my cousin Seng rolled out the red carpet.  We saw DC/Va the way Seng sees it..everyday…you see…my cousin is a little famous…famous for her amazing restaurants.  These aren’t just restaurants but she opened the VERY FIRST LAO restaurant in the DC area.  We don’t have ANY in Toronto..

On Friday, we ate at Thip Khao. Her largest restaurant which has garnered tons of attention because the food is unlike most “thai” restaurants you go to..they’re not “americanized”. The food is made how “we” would eat it…stinky fish sauce and all!  We ordered Pun Mieng which is a hand wrapped, make your own lettuce wrap that featured lemon grass, fresh herbs(picked from her own garden) that you would never think to put together!

collard green wrap, dill, padaek-pineapple sauce, raw herb & vegetable
whole pampano 28 | fried catfish 25 | fried tofu 16
my kids favourite..
crispy sesame jerky, coconut rice, fermented chili-fish sauce, cucumber, pickled radish
beef 17 | pork 17
wok rice noodles, fish sauce caramel, egg, tomato, bean sprout, lime
shrimp 16 | pork belly 15 | chicken 15 | fried tofu 12
and of course ….our staple…STICKY RICE

Most people are familiar with Thai cuisine. Unless you’ve travelled to Laos, the majority of the population has no idea where/what Laos is…which is unfortunate especially since Laos was heavily bombed during the Vietnam war as US military dumped artillery on their way back from Vietnam missions.  There are still millions of bombies left undetonated…that’s another story…a story that the late Anthony Bourdain thought that he should dedicate an episode of his Parts Unknown to. My cousins’ kua mee noodle recipe is also showcased. https://explorepartsunknown.com/laos/recipe-kua-mee/ 

On Sunday, we had a late lunch at Padaek with our friends who live in Maryland.  We ate like kings. The kids couldn’t get enough of the beef jerky, sausages and tried the Khao Poon for the first time which is a traditional curry noodle soup. We even got to hang out in the kitchen and meet the cooks! (who by the way is also Chef Seng’s brother)

Opening a Lao restaurant was a daring step as an entrepeneur to showcase cuisine in a market that has never experienced this type of food let alone garner attention from the JAMES BEARD FOUNDATIONThip Khao AND Padaek have both been nominated and achieved semi-finalist status!  Today Chef Seng got her semi-finalist notification in the mail.Chef Seng’s announcement


I’m truly inspired now that I’m back home in Toronto to learn how to cook More of my grandmother’s recipes & style of cooking. Thank you to my cousin Chef Seng who has reminded me how great our family is…how delicious the recipes are…how much I should be proud of being LAO and most importantly a ….LUANGRATH….SO if you’re ever in DC…or Virginia…you need to come by Padaek or Thip Khao OR their new soon to be open..Hannuman.(I even got a sneak peak).and make sure you tell them I sent you….you won’t regret it….THIP KHAO PADAEK  

who knows?? I may open my own Canadian version….;)

Thank you for your hospitality and all your efforts to educate the world on Lao food #laofoodmovement @chefSeng #mycousin #laofood @Luangrath #proud