Senor Lanky and I love Vientiane, our local Laotion family-owned restaurant so much, we actually ended up there on Valentine’s Day with with our fancy bottle of Spanish wine. The restaurant was dimly lit, and on every high surface the staff had placed little glimmering votives in wine glasses. For about a year, I ordered the same thing over and over, because I loved it so much, but in the last two years I’ve allowed myself to branch out, and have never been disappointed. I ordered the above Eggplant Sweet Basil with basmati rice that night. While it was sweet, the basil had a enough bitterness left in it’s ample skin to balance the flavors.
Senor Lanky ordered the pad ke mao with tofu, so that he could share with me (what a sweetheart!). This is one of my favorite all-time dishes, and never disappoints. When it gets too spicy, just bite into one of those juicy chunks of tomato to cool your mouth off. Vientiane does NOT mess around with spice. Seriously. If it’s your first visit, let them prepare it they way they suggest, and add chili if you still want it after tasting your dish. On a rating system from one to five chilies, most people I know can’t handle more than two, and Senor Lanky and I (true chili lovers) never go higher than four, though five chilies, accomplished only by my friend Ryan who basically drinks hot sauce for breakfast, is a goal we continually strive for. We actually forgot to specify our spicy level, so you can see the extra crushed, dried chili the friendly staff brought for us.
We never make it to dessert (I always want to eat my entire dinner), but it was Valentine’s Day, so I took half of my entree home and we went for the sweets. Senor Lanky was head-over-heels for these banana chocolate spring rolls – and entire banana dipped in chocolate, fried in thin dough, and served with a mango dipping sauce.
My favorite was the coconut rice pudding – not too sweet and served in two cute little bowls – the perfect size.