Remember that dim-witted man who decided to tip toe across a high wire between two of Chicago’s tallest buildings without so much as a carabineer for protection? Yea, the one who then did it blindfolded? At the end of his stunt he experiences a euphoric release that’s akin to how we felt when Thip Khao opened its doors in the District.
A little distance never kept us from hitting up Bangkok Golden in Virginia, but the fact that a straight shot up 14th Street is all that’s separating us from edible Laotian treasures from Chef Seng makes us tingle.
While the intricate menu mandates several (hundred!) trips, there are some early front-runners for Best Thing on the Menu like Naem Khao—Crispy rice with coconut, lime, green onion, sausage, peanut, cilantro and lettuce wraps. It’s a $10 texture party found in the soup & salad section.
The Khao Poon noodle soup is silky and teeters between sweet and spicy. Rice noodles dance in a broth made from coconut milk, red curry and shrimp paste, along with a mound of cabbage, bean sprouts, carrots and a protein of choice (chicken/flounder/tofu).
Finally, you can’t go wrong with laab. The dish is commonly pronounced larb, but we’ve sworn that off like a bad habit thanks to some instruction from Chef Seng and other Laotian buddies who say it like a lob in tennis. The signature dish consists of minced meat, fish or tofu blended with herbs, tang and heat. Go with duck if you can.
If you woke up with your big boy pants on, place an adventurous order from Thip Khao’s “Let’s Go to the Jungle” menu. Extra points if you sing Guns N’ Roses. This menu boasts more authentic tastes like crispy fried intestine with sriracha sauce; spicy blood sausage with peanut and ginger; and rice noodle soup with pork blood tofu.
If possible, save room for a cocktail from the mind of Jack Caminos who took the challenge of making Lao inspired drinks very seriously. It was tough because beer is the go-to beverage in Laos, making cocktails relatively uncharted territory.
Naem Khao (crispy rice salad) not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.
Thip Khao is located at 3462 14th Street NW.