A bit of semantics, I guess, since this is also the area's ONLY Lao restaurant.
Next to Arlington's Cinema and Drafthouse on Colombia Pike is the divey Canton Gourmet Express, which would be called pan-asian if there was less formica. Yes, you can get your fix of Cantonese, Thai, Pho, and Korean here, but there is also a list of about 17 dishes from Laos.
The woman who runs the place, along with her family, is half Thai and half Lao and she is eager to talk about some of the differences of Lao cuisine.
I told her I wanted it as authentic as possible. She thought about that for a moment, and she said 'maybe I don't make it so spicy for you, you can add that at the table.'
I ordered Nam Dok, a cold beef dish, Tamaju (Papaya Salad), and Laotian Sausage. Sausage was good and mildly spicy. The beef had a ton of ginger on it and created major fireworks in my mouth. The papaya salad was almost untouchable it was so spicy. At least twice as spicy as anything I've ever been served in a Thai restaurant.
I think this would be an interesting place for a Chowhound meal. She makes a couple of dishes that should be ordered in advance, including one that has fish and uses a blender. (sounds like an Saturday Night Live sketch.) Also the menu listsd a couple of 'Loyal' dishes. What is Loyal, I asked? "Loyal, you know, the king lives in loyal palace."
I can't guaranteee folks will like it, but I'm pretty sure it will be a first for most Chowhounds.
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