I was in Fresno over the weekend and decided to check out a Lao restaurant in the area. I had wanted to try Lao Paradise Cafe, but it wasn't open so I ended up going to another Lao restaurant called Lao Cafe 2. I'm so happy that Lao Cafe 2 was my backup plan, because the food was terrific! I ordered their "Seen Lot" (skinny Lao beef jerky) that was warm and oh so tender. The dish came with a VERY hot and sour sauce that complemented the beef. The dish tasted great with an order of warm sticky rice. I highly recommend that Lao beef jerky dish. They also served "Seen Savan" (Lao sweet beef jerky with sesame seeds), but I didn't want to order two beef jerky dishes so I decided to skip on this other version.
Since it was the weekend (when farm beef is usually available), I ordered their raw beef Larb with big slices of tripe (I asked for spicy and bitter). Their beef larb tasted as good and as fresh as the one at That Luang Kitchen in San Pablo. However, I will forewarn everyone that the chef at Lao Cafe 2 does not kid around when it comes to the hotness level of her dishes. Even though I'm Laotian, I initially had a hard time eating the Larb because it was soooo spicy. It was definitely "Lao" spicy! Do not come here if you're accustomed to Thai-American or Thai spicy, because the restaurant caters to Laotians and others who are familiar with Lao cuisine since the restaurant is located in Fresno, which is a hub for Laotians. If you ask for spicy when ordering a Lao dish, please be prepared to drink a lot of water to offset the heat. Their Larb dish did not come with a separate plate of raw vegetables like at other Lao places, but they provided some raw vegetables that's served on the same plate as the larb. As far as the bitterness level is concerned, again the chef does not kid around so ask for the non-bitter version (or have them make it a little bit bitter), if you're not quite ready for the full-strength version.
I also ordered their Lao stuffed chicken wing ("angel wing"), but I didn't like their version because the stuffing had kaffir lime leaves and lacked glass noodles. The kaffir lime leaves overpowered the dish IMHO. I definitely prefer my mom's version better because she doesn't use kaffir lime leaves for this dish.
The service was a bit slow, but overall Lao Cafe 2 gets a two thumbs up from me for their dishes because the restaurant is definitely "Lao" worthy and they offer authentic Lao dishes. I would eat at that place again in a heartbeat, if I'm ever in the Fresno area.
Lao Cafe 2
3255 N Cedar Ave, Fresno, CA 93726
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