Restaurant Review: Balee Laos

I see this restaurant often and had been dying to try it out.

The name suggests that it served Laos food. When I mentioned that I was going to my Thai language instructor, he tried to create a conversation about what I like about Laos food. When I mentioned that I never had, the class spiraled into another cultural lesson, coupled with a lot of vocabulary words on ordering food in a restaurant.

Loas shares a LOT with the eastern Thai people. In fact, some would say they are the same. The Thais from that region are called yii-san. And the specialty dishes are essentially identical. Their dishes are famous of being spicy, salty, bitter, sour, sweet… basically flavourful in all major ways. So Thais, when eating in yii-san restaurants, often order not just the dish but also dictate how much spice and what kind of spice they want on the dish.

Specialties include:
– Som tom (spicy papaya salad)
– Glass noodles
– Laab (minced fried meat slices)
– Green curry

The restaurant itself was quite small, but wonderful traditional decor without sacrificing the modern amenities. Half the restaurant was outdoors, but we opted for indoor air-conditioned seating. Just as well because a heavy storm blew through as we started ordering.

Prices were on the mid-range end. You’re paying for the ambiance here. Dishes average 150 THBaht. Not bad, but expensive if you can get the same dishes for 30 baht down the street in a streetside shop.

Service was rather mediocre. Slow, sometimes wait staff vanishing completely. Given that it’s a small restaurant to begin with, that’s hard to accomplish.

Food was excellent. Spices were tasty and distinct enough for me to figure out what kind of a flavour the sauce meant to bring out of the food. Portions were decent; small on the American end, but sufficient for a group eating family style. Our gang of restaurant triers are finding that family-style dining is the best way to go around here, to sample as many different options as possible.

All in all, a great restaurant to bring guests.

As far as I can tell, the restaurant did not have its own webpage. But this offers some nice photos and address info.

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