250 K Street, NE
From Laos in Town:
“Restaurateur Nick Ongsangkoon grew up in Bangkok, entranced by the spicy and authentic flavors of the charcoal chicken and papaya salad offered by the Laotian street food vendors who traveled to the city. As a child, he often visited the North Eastern Thailand region, and crossed the bridge over the Mekong River to Laos, which has a shared food culture. Nick immigrated to Virginia as a teen. After attending UCLA, Nick returned to the DC area to try his hand in the restaurant business; most recently as co-owner of Soi 38 on L Street NW.
Chef Ben Tiatasin, also a Bangkok native, began her career in the business world, but followed her passion to the beloved Bangkok Golden, known for its Laotian dishes, where she was at the helm of the front of the house. She then moved on to Thip Khao, as manager, where she fell in love with the art of cooking Laotian cuisine. After this experience, she took on a role as chef at Esaan in Mclean Va.
Now Chef Ben and Nick have joined forces, recently taking an extensive research and development trip to the different regions of Laos, laying the groundwork for Laos In Town. While in Laos, she learned from local chefs to enhance her technique and expertise in Laotian cuisine.
Laos in Town’s menu highlights the bright, vibrant, clean and simple flavors of the cuisine. Fish sauce, lemongrass, galangal and ginger are just some of the flavors used to give Laotian food its distinct taste. The extensive menu features highlights like Herbal Pork Sausage, grilled minced pork sausage, mixed with rough ground herbs, served with a green chili dipping sauce on the side, as well as the LIT Signature Salad, which is one of the Chef’s favorites. The salad includes a signature papaya salad of mixed julienned green papaya, green beans, tomatoes, bean sprouts, pickles, Laos pork loaf and a mellow fermented fish sauce. The Grilled Jumbo Prawns with spicy lime dipping sauce appetizer is inspired by the Chef Ben’s time watching fishermen cast their nets in the Mekong river in Vientiane, the capital and largest city in Laos. Another favorite is the Grilled Whole Fish, featuring a grilled whole branzino, stuffed with basil, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves and served with steamed vermicelli noodles, spicy tamarind sauce, and tomato dipping sauce. Desserts are light and flavorful, including the Mango Sticky Rice: Pandan leaves have a sweet fragrance and taste that causes the sweet sticky rice to turn green. It is served with fresh mango. The Smoked Banana features grilled sliced banana with a caramelized flower sauce, served with banana flavored ice-cream. Catering to all tastes, a full, separate vegan menu will also be available.
Steps from the H Street corridor and located under the Loree Grand at Union Place apartment building, the 95 seat dining room has a distinctly modern, airy feel. Once inside, diners are transported to the sights and smells of Laos; traditional birch trees line the walls and giant fishing traps hang from the ceiling. Used by Laotian fisherman and a common sight in Laos, these traps are hung in every business to represent luck and prosperity, sitting outside the front door of every business to usher in financial success. Flanking the open kitchen, authentic lunch boxes, used by traditional Laotian workers, line the shelves, along with beautifully handcrafted tea sets and water pitchers. Bamboo baskets adorn the walls to give customers a reminder of the street vendors who carry fresh salads and offerings in baskets on their shoulders. Contrasting against these old fashioned touches are modern finishes, such as bright white marble waterfall countertops, bright and shiny black and white marble floors leading to the restroom area, as well as a modern bar area, a large outdoor patio, and a small area selling merchandise at the entrance of the restaurant.
Laos in Town will be open daily for lunch and dinner.
Monday – Thursday: 11 am – 10 pm
Friday: 11 am – 10:30 pm
Saturday: Noon to 10:30 pm
Sunday: Noon to 10 pm”