Friday, January 29, 2016

Thip Khao

Thip Khao is the creation of Chef Seng Luangrath and was born from her passion to bring an innovative, yet genuine Lao dining experience to Washington D.C. Similar to Northern Thai cuisine, Lao food is complex, diverse in flavors and textures. Laos is a landlocked country. Food here is preserved and fermented, which means only one thing: Lao food is deliciously funky in all the right ways. Closest Metro is Columbia Heights.

We were really craving some spicy Southeast Asian food, so decided to venture up north in the city to check out the new restaurant, Thip Khao.  Reservations were made ahead of time via phone.  As soon as you enter, the delicious funky smell of fish sauce knocks you over.

First, we ordered drinks.  A glass of Riesling for me and Beer Lao, an imported lager for Keith.  There were so many items on the menu that looked great.  It was hard to decide, and we probably ended up over-ordering just because!

As a starter, we shared the Peek Gai Yadsai - fried stuffed boneless wings with shrimp, shiitake mushrooms, and water chestnuts. These looked a bit different than expected, and did not have the taste I was looking for.  Bu Keith enjoyed them.

We also shared a great vegetarian and gluten-free item, the Chuenh Tofu.  Crispy tofu is tossed in spicy house sauce, and scallions. This dish was a large portion and had wonderful umami flavor.

Of course we could not skip papaya salad.  Thip Kao has several versions on the menu, so we settled on the Tam Muk Houng - shredded green papaya, padeak (fish sauce), cherry tomatoes, lime, Thai chilies, garlic, and shrimp paste. This dish had the highest spice level of all.  While fresh and acidic, I could barely eat but a few forkfuls.  Maybe if I had some rice with it, I would have eaten more, but I did not want to sacrifice my palate or stomach as we had more dishes on the way.

From the "jungle menu" we ordered the Naem Khao Hu Muu.  An incredible mixture of crispy coconut rice, steamed pig ears, peanuts, cilantro, ginger, mint, and sour pork sausage was served with green leaf lettuce to make your own wraps.  This dish was addictive and my favorite of the night.  The pig ears were chewy with the cartilage, the rice crunchy, the sausage soft and sour, and all the herbs just added that extra element to each bite.

Also from the "jungle menu" was the Laab E'Kae - minced alligator, green mango, toasted rice powder, scallions, cilantro, mint, and chili powder.  This was another salad-type dish that was underwhelming compared to the others we already had.  We only ordered it for the bizarre factor, and while it had a little more spice and great flavor, we could have done without this dish.

Lastly, we ordered a noodle/soup dish called Khao Poon Luang Prabang.  The description sounded so good, with rice vermicelli, coconut, curry, fermented soybeans, tomatoes, shrimp paste, bamboo, cabbage, bean sprouts, and cilantro. We added cod fish for an extra $2.  This dish was comforting for a cold night, and would make a perfect meal on its own

Overall, we had a very filling Laotion meal at Thip Khao.  The ingredients are traditional and fresh, and Chef Seng does not compromise her roots to satisfy the "American customer".  The only downside for us is the location - the completely opposite far quadrant from us, but luckily it is walkable to a Metro station.

UPDATE: This restaurant was awarded Bib Gourmand in October 2016.

Total Rating: 3.98
Food: 4, Price: 4, Service: 4, Ambience: 3.5, Accessibility: 4.5

Thip Khao Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

1 comment:

  1. The snacks here had a smooth taste with a bit of cheese and lime juice. To start, we got pork rinds there; they were really flavorful with a spicy kick and smooth taste. Plus, it was a large fresh bag too, LA venues are worth the price.


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