I have been looking to try out some more local-oriented Southeast Asian places, after having been disappointed by the more Americanized Vietnamese and Thai places in downtown/East Sac/Broadway. I found a place that is DEFINITELY authentic, catering almost exclusively to a Laotian and Cambodian clientele. It's very bare bones, and the menu consists of very simple country homestyle cooking, but everything I had was good and I certainly would like to go back.
Southeast Asian BBQ is a hole-in-the-wall located in a rather scruffy residential neighborhood, way out off of I-80 (Norwood exit). The menu has about 10 or so items, focusing on noodle dishes. The only "bbq" on the menu are chicken-wings-on-a-stick, which are cooked to order on an outdoor grill.
Here's what I had:
- Kha Phoon: A noodle soup with a curry-based broth, shredded chicken, and vermicelli-type noodles. This dish was simple but very good, and was different from other curry noodle soups I've had that contain coconut milk. This was lighter and more subtle.
- Chicken on a Stick: Aforementioned chicken wing grilled on a stick. This was done to order, so the meat was really piping hot and juicy. Nicely charred bbq flavor, but it didn't seem to be seasoned with anything special. It tasted delicious with the extra-strong fish sauce at the table, though.
- Papaya salad: My favorite of the day. It was blistering hot -- I was asked how many chiles I wanted, and I said medium hot, figuring that she would tone it down for the white girl. So she gave me 4 chiles in there... and it was really, really hot. Nice texture, finely shredded papaya, lots of fish sauce.
I was sorry not to have gotten to try other things on the menu, especially the laab (larb) which is always a favorite with me. All of the other diners were eating other noodle soups that looked more like pho.
Basically, this place is an authentic find that is not trying to cater to Americanized tastes. It's nothing fancy (in fact it's pretty rough around the edges) but the food is real and good.
Southeast Asian BBQ
557 Eleanor Avenue, Sacramento, CA