After a bite of Hmong sausage at Asian One, http://www.chowhound.com/topics/535061 , and then a brief stop at the Vineyard farmers market , http://www.chowhound.com/topics/526571 , I headed south to meet up with “david kaplan” and Eric at B&K Asian Kitchen for a Laotian lunch. The young waiters were smartly attired in black t-shirts imprinted with “Got Lop?” on the backside.
The not-so-subliminal advertising was effective and we immediately turned to the Lop (a.k.a. larb) section of the menu. We asked our waitress for help in picking out the Lao dishes from the Thai. I also did my best to convince her that “david kaplan” was from Laos and that the kitchen should hit us with the full spice level.
The first dish was my favorite, #24 Koung nap pa, $9.50, raw shrimp with ginger chili sauce on a bed of lettuce and green papaya.
On a bed of shredded green papaya and cabbage, the butterflied sweet raw shrimp each rested on a slice of tomato. Each one was dressed with a lime and shallot spicy fish sauce dressing, and more dressing was offered for an extra dip.
Next up, #37 Beef lop with book tripe, $8.95 and #40 Sin lot with roasted tomato-chili sauce, $8.50, as shown here.
Before we ordered the lop, the tripe-adverse among us wanted to know if it would be possible to eat around the book tripe. Our waitress assured him that it was in good-size strands and could be picked out easily. As it turned out, he tried it and discovered that he likes book tripe and had no problem with it. Bright with zingy lime juice and fish sauce, a good amount of roasted rice powder, and oodles of fragrant herbs, this was a terrific example of lop. It was good with the accompanying raw cabbage. I’ve not had book tripe in lop before, and now I’ll be craving it this way.
Our waitress seemed like she was steering us away from the sin lot, but we’re glad we persisted. Deep-fried dried beef, this was still tender at the core beneath the hearty chewiness and crispy exterior. The roasted tomato-chili sauce on the side had a good kick. I thought it was better than the last time I had the dish at Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas, where it tends to be inconsistent.
My least favorite offering was #30 Papaya salad, $5.50.
Quite a generous serving for the price, the shreds of green papaya were well-pounded with the seasonings and tomatoes. Now having tried this version and a couple others, I’ve concluded that I’m not a fan of the Lao-style made with the extra pungent fish sauce and dark carmelly dressing.
I also had an ice tea with lime. Made with red Thai tea, but instead of sweetened condensed milk, it was sweetened and flavored with fresh lime. Interesting, but I don’t think I’ll order it again.
We had excellent service here and thought everything was prepared well. This is a great place for chowhounds and I look forward to returning. Our only regret is that we can’t find Lao food prepared this well in our own town of San Francisco.
B & K Asian Kitchen
1276 N 1st St, Fresno, CA 93703