I’m going to go out on a limb and make an assumption. It could be wrong, it could be right, but it’s just an educated guess. You’ve never had Laotian food, have you? It’s totally understandable if you haven’t, nobody is judging you or anything. I had never had Laotian food myself until just the other day. But now you can try it, so long as you decide to saunter your fine self over to Thip Khao.
Thip Khao was ranked as one of Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurants in 2015. Those guys over there might know what they are talking about, I guess. Just another educated guess.
I met one of my friends there for happy hour because, huzzah, happy hour exists each and every glorious day at Thip Khao. We sat at the bar and each ordered a glass of the house white (it was a little sweeter than I normally go for, but if that’s your thing you may like it) and ordered a few happy hour niblets.
My friend is gluten-free and, !surprise!, Thip Khao actually has a pretty extensive listing of gluten free items on their menu. We opted to split the fried calamari and the crispy wings.
I heard whispers that much of the food at Thip Khao was going to be relatively spicy, and was prepared for it. I had a glass of water by my side, and a napkin at the ready to dry any of the warm, inadvertent tears that could make their way down the side of my face. I was feeling fearless, people. I was ready to take on the Scoville scale firsthand, and defeat it.
I was actually quite surprised that the heat index yielded a much lower pain threshold than expected. Granted, I probably didn’t order the most searing-hot thing on the menu, but the heat from the chili sauce on the calamari was more like a pleasant tingle rather than a full on, raging inferno.
My slight gripe was that I would have preferred the calamari to be a touch crispier. My best guess is that it had something to do with the dredging mixture, considering it was gluten free. It also went cold faster than I would have expected it to, which was slightly unappealing.
The next thing we tried were the crispy wings (which you can also order as tofu) that were served with a sweet and spicy sauce, tamarind salt, and cucumber. Once again, the heat on the wings was completely manageable and the texture was succulent, crisp and sweet-sticky. You know, the perfect wing texture. It was just the thing that wing-based dreams are made of.
I should probably point out that the level of heat is likely dependent on how spicy you like your food. I have a habit of pouring Sriracha onto things at great quantities, so there is that.
I also thought that the addition of the cucumber instead of a celery stick was a nice addition for a cooling touch. It was a crisp, clean, little refreshing bite. A refreshing splash of water on a summer day, sort of feeling.
There are so many items on the Thip Khao menu that look appealing, yet somehow mysterious. They have an attractive, entrancing quality of something that you don’t think you are actually meant to like, but will. Bring on the duck heads, the fried pigs ears, the chicken hearts. In large quantities, if possible. Thip Khao encourages you to step out of your boxed, Americanized palate. You know the one. They aren’t trying to gently lull you to sleep or baby you. They are full-on adulting your palate, and by all means, let them. Also the happy hour menu includes a rice noodle salad (Tum Khao Poon Phet Phet) which is described as ‘extremely spicy’. Challenge accepted.
3462 14th Street NW
Washington, DC 20010