Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lao Lane Xang - Paris

Thai Food, You Got Competition!
I am lucky enough to have a colleague here in Paris who was born in Laos and offered to take me for an authentic Laotian meal. I'd never had it before and was not sure what to expect. I love Thai food and measure most asian food againt it. This meal more than held its own! I recommend clicking on the pictures for a larger view, you won't regret it. We started with an order of fish cakes. Not only were they beautiful, but they were also meaty and light at the same time.

Next, deep-fried pork, spiced nicely. These hunks were tender and moist. They were gone in no time.

I followed my colleague's lead and ordered a soup: chicken curry. Just below the surface it was brimming with noodles, chunks of potatoes and lemon grass. I ate all the noodles first, then the chicken and left the potatoes for last. As you can see, especially if you click on this photo to enlarge it, the chicken fat floated deliciously on the surface.

Next, a plate of curried duck with vegetables. I have had a lot of duck in my life and I cannot recall one that tasted better. This was the spiciest of the dishes I tried and my hands-down favorite.

As if we hadn't had enough already, the latecomer was the steamed fish wrapped in banana leaves. This was ok, nothing spectacular. Could be that I was stuffed already by this point.

Never to full for dessert, though. I got a flan with coconut milk. It was the perfect light dessert to accompany the meal.

If you plan to go, make sure of one thing - that you pick that right restaurant. Turns out, there are two restaurants with the same name across the street from each other and a third that shares a kitchen with one. There is the fancy two-storied one on one side of the street. Then, there are the two across the street that share the same kitchen and cook. Avoid the fancy one, cross the street and choose the one on the left, according to my colleague. The exterior is shown below. Yes, it has a different name - don't ask - I never got a clear explanation.

13th Arondissement

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  1. Some of the dishes sure looked very much like Thai food...

    If you like these dishes, then I think you will like what you get in Singapore... but are u READY?

  2. I am ready, Puffin! Bring it on! Ummm, just not ready for the 20 hr flight over there....

  3. hey there. looks like quite a meal. Le Figaro did a piece on 20 tables of 2008 not to miss. thought you'd be interested in their category for "Meilleure thaïe fine":

    Oth Sombath, 184, rue du faubourg-Saint-Honoré, VIIIe. Tél. : 01 42 56 55 55. Env. 40-70€. Menus à 28€ et 35€ (déj.) et 70€ (dim.)

    (ps. i'm heading to singapore next week myself, first time!)

  4. Kerrin, thanks for the post, I will definitely check it out when I get back to Paris. Do you have a link to that Le Figaro piece?

    I think our cameras and stomachs will be seriously busy over in Singapore - my girlfriend tells me I am going to love the food there.

  5. here's the article from Le Figaro:

    and yes - hope your camera and stomach are ready! mine are !! :)

  6. I fully agree: avoid the fancy one, that is Lao Lane Xang 2 (102 Avenue d'Ivry).

    Just a warning: the restaurant places a great importance in customers turnover.

    To begin with, if you make a reservation, you'd better come with the exact number of people you have reserved for.

    I don't know if the restaurant will be more accommodating in case of bigger number of people. But in case of less people, which is the case of my experience there, I can assure you, it means collective punishment.

    Even if your companies are just late, the restaurant will not allow you to have your table and wait while sitting. Neither even while eating.

    The best is that everybody comes on time. The worse is in case of late comers. No show ups is the worst. It results in the group having to give up the reserved table.

    If you are determined, you join the long queue for those without reservations (while waiting for the late comers).

    Finally, once you have your table, the service is rushed. They are not discreet in monitoring if and when you have done with each dish. This restaurant is obviously not for taking all your time to enjoy the experience.

    You are there to empty the plate and get out. The faster you do it, the better!

    But to be fair, I have to report that despite the strongly-non-customer-oriented, there has never been a lack of customers. The queue is long and perhaps that's why the customers are at the full mercy of the restaurant.

    Just as they put it: "If you don't like, just leave. There are many waiting."