The other day 5 of us gathered for lunch at Vientian Café to satisfy the craving for Nam Kao aka crispy rice ball salad (#9 on the regular menu $6.95) and Lao sausage (on the Lao Specialties menu). We were not disappointed! The rice ball salad was indeed crispy. A squeeze of the lemon provided gave it just the tart zing it needed. I really love this dish and loved the subtle coconut flavor. We weren’t concerned about how much green onion was included. I felt that it was just right. Even got an order to go for DH (he’s lucky he got any as I could have easily eaten the whole thing…). The to-go order held up well and was still crispy at 7:30 that evening.
The Lao sausage listed on the Lao Specialty menu as Sai Ooa ($2.50 for one link, we had 2 pieces), was so flavorful from the fresh herbs. Ingredients include pork, lemon grass, garlic and chili peppers among other things. 4 of the 5 of us got a 2 lb. frozen package to take home ($6.00/pkg). It was nice to eat this with a ball of sticky rice.
Other dishes we ordered:
Mok Pa (steamed fish $5.00) which included catfish nuggets, lemon grass, onion, garlic, kaffir lime leaf, toasted rice powder). Again, this was on the Lao Specialties menu. Looked like it had been steamed in a banana leaf but was served out of the leaf in a bowl. Not particularly exciting to look at but it was very tasty. The lemon grass and kaffir lime leaf flavors were so nice. This is a comfort food dish.
On the “Specials” menu: Roast Duck Salad ($10.95), as described on the menu as slices of roast duck, red onion, mint leaves, chili peppers, lemon dressing and cashew nuts. The plate was garnished with tomato quarters and orange slices. This didn’t knock my socks off but it wasn’t bad.
Zoob Nor Mai: Bamboo stew on Lao Specialties menu ($5.00). Shredded bamboo, spinach juice, chili pepper, fish sauce and sesame oil, onion and rice powder.
For dessert we shared a plate of mangoes with sweet rice and coconut cream ($3.95). A couple of bites made a nice ending to a delicious meal.
The Thai Iced Coffee ($2.00 small, $3.50 large) is another wonderful sweet ending to a savory meal – like drinking a coffee candy.
Total tab split 5 ways with a nice tip came to $12.50 each.
Our server was pleasant and we had no language problems. I’d love to explore more of this menu! Street parking wasn’t a problem at 11:30 on a Tuesday.
Vientian Café (Lao, Thai and Vietnamese Cuisine)
3801 Allendale Ave.
Oakland CA 94619
Hours Monday – Sunday, 11:00 am – 9:00 pm