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Bida Manda report, new Laotian resataurant in Raleigh


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Bida Manda report, new Laotian resataurant in Raleigh

injust | Sep 15, 2012 05:07 AM

I was surprised I hadn't seen anything about this on Chowhound, so had to post my experience from last night, which was fantastic. I may have been a little biased, as the owner is one of my classmate's friends and I love new Southeast Asian food, but the space is beautiful, prices were reasonable, and the cocktails, appetizers, entrees, and desserts were all excellent. The owners are a Laotian-American brother-sister team and named the restaurant for their parents, with photos from Laos and memorabilia of their parents scattered around the room. The chef is Laotian, and I believe the bartender/mixologist used to be at Fox Liquor Bar. The owner, Van, came around and talked to all the tables, asking what entrees people had ordered and what they thought.

Our party of 4 had:
Cocktails ($7-9)
*Pina Colada- excellent and potent, with housemade coconut cream
*Witbier flip- creamy, very tasty beer cocktail with cognac, lemon, simple syrup and egg
*Sazerac- I just had a small taste, but seemed well-balanced
*Ginger Julep- strong and ginger-y, served in a nice metal cup with tons of ice that tempers the drink as it melts

Appetizers (All were $6.90, IIRC)
*Ground pork spring rolls- a little different from typical Thai/Vietnamese fried spring rolls, with a richer, almost pate-like flavor, very good
*Roasted Anaheim pepper stuffed with Lao sausage- subtly spicy in places, somewhat small, everyone liked it
*Soft shell crab- delicately fried on top of lettuce-like greens, very tasty

Entrees (all $13-15, I believe)
*Beef Larb- excellent and spicy (they ask about preferred spice level), similar to Thai and Cambodian larb I've had, with really excellent sticky rice served (and steamed?) in an enclosed wicker basket. You can order it traditional style with tripe, but I opted not to.
*Green papaya salad with grilled duck- you can choose your topping from steak, duck, chicken, and I believe veggies as well. A big hit, spice level also to order.
*Saffron crepe with shrimp and bacon- delicious comfort food, with a great fish sauce
*Caramelized ginger pork ribs- possibly everyone's favorite, very tender with excellent balance of savory-sweet-ginger flavors, also served with sticky rice

Dessert (can't recall prices)
*Purple sticky rice custard topped with mango and coconut- like a gourmet version of Thai mango sticky rice, delicious
*Tempura bananas with ice cream- nicely fried and really tasty

I hope this wasn't too much detail. You can probably tell we had a great time, were very impressed by the whole experience, and want to go back again soon. There were definitely some more dishes (pork belly soup, basil beef, summer rolls, pho...) that we were excited to try.

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