157 Duane St, New York, NY 10013
I never thought the words "cozy" and "Southeast Asian food" would go together, but apparently they do. Located in the heart of Tribeca on Duane St, Khe-Yo is a dimly lit, brick-walled den packed with vibin' customers and vibrant Laotian food. Raise your hand if you don't know much to anything about Laotian food. Ok, now put your hand back on the mousepad or iPhone you're reading this on and keep scrolling.
Khe-Yo has a Southeast Asian inspired menu with a lot of Laotian influence. Chef Soulayphet "Phet" Schwader grew up eating traditional Laotian food cooked by his mother, who is from the beautiful, tiny country, and her recipes inspired the menu at Khe-Yo. The best thing about Laotian food is that they use sticky rice to eat everything. Let me explain. Laotian food is finger food, and you start your meal with hand fulls of sticky rice to dip into different sauces (it's like having bread and butter at an American restaurant...but more fun, like Play-Doh). Not only do you start with sticky rice, but you incorporate it throughout the meal as an edible utensil. So, basically, you're making little cups of sticky rice and stuffing delicious foods into them and then eating a rice-wrapped ball of deliciousness. I can get down with that.
Another staple: the unofficial national dish of Laos, the Laap salad. Laap salad is traditionally a meat salad on a bed of sour, spicy and bright flavors, like papaya. The menu at Khe-Yo takes a lot of unique twists and turns, veering off from tradition and and adding some innovation. The Laap salad here is made with duck, but the night we went, we got the special: foie gras, tuna and bone marrow Laap salad. Yes, I did see my cardiologist the next day. This was served with a side of shrimp crisps that we used as our edible utensil. Loving this whole edible utensil thing.
With that, came crunchy coconut rice with spicy lime leaf sausage and baby iceberg. We ate it with a fork and realized that was cheating, so we decided to put it on the lettuce leaves. Not sure if we did it right, here.
And no round of small plates is complete without chicken "lollipops" AKA sticky chicken wangs.
Main courses had to be eaten with utensils or else my boyfriend and I would have taken a shower in coconut curry broth. No, that's not supposed to be sexy. These here are pork curry noodles.
And finally, wok seared lobster and noodles AKA Pad See Ew with yu choy and thai basil. Pad See Ew is my favorite Thai dish of all time, and I didn't know Laos was also in on the game. This rendition has chunks of sweet lobster meat. How can you go wrong?
We finished off our meal with rice pudding and what they call a "palate cleanser," which was the best concord grape sorbet I've ever had. I don't have photos of these because I was too excited. That rice pudding is what dreams are made of, and I'm not even into rice pudding. The Laotian people do it right.