By Daphne Domingo
Washington, DC – The rumors are true and the plaster is on the wall. Local chef, Seng Luangrath, will transport some of her famed authentic Laotian food from the hidden menus of Bangkok Golden in Seven Corners to Columbia Heights in the District.
The new restaurant, Thip Khao (Lao for sticky rice basket) is still waiting finalizing some licensing and hopes to open its doors this winter. It will feature dishes made for finger gathering and with a spiciness sure to warm up even the most frozen of diners.
For the past four years, Chef Seng noticed diners around the DC metropolitan area were looking for something new, especially Southeast Asian cuisine, and very few cuisines are as unique and different as Laotian food. “The DC market has a much more open palate. They’re more adventurous, not afraid of something different,” she remarked. “They enjoy the complex flavor.”
When asked why she chose the Columbia Heights neighborhood, Chef Seng answered, “it hasn’t had new ethnicity there and I wanted to bring something new into the city. Laotian food is very different. So many Thai [restaurants] already.” She then noted that a lot of her customers at Bangkok Golden come from around that neighborhood.
Beyond her existing customers, Chef Seng desires to introduce more people to Laotian food, get it out to a larger and more accessible market where a lot more people “will be able to taste and experience it.” While a lot of her customers are willing to cross the bridge into Virginia, she predicts there are just as many, and if not more, interested customers.
The menu at Thip Khao will be strictly Laotian, with very traditional dishes as well as modern takes with her personal twist. She declares she will be more adventurous than what has been offered at Bangkok golden, such as laab (or larb), a traditional minced meat dish, including liver, tripe and pork skins. She may also add some extra ingredients like pork blood and other vegetables not served or currently available at Bangkok Golden, like lemon basil. Perhaps the only carryover from the restaurant is her watercress Pad Lao.
To the over 400 subscribers to Chef Seng’s popular blog, ChefSeng.com, who signed up for to be on the invitation list for a soft opening, she hopes to send out information with dates this month. You can be sure that this writer is anxiously monitoring her own email for an invitation, too.