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Laos in Town - Chef Ben Tiatasin's Laotian at 3rd and K Street NE in NoMA


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New Laotian restaurant in NoMa.  After several visits, I'd rate this place as "ok."  First the good parts: Big outdoor space; beautiful dining room; Laotian food is interesting and -- other than Thip Khao and related restaurants -- uncommon around DC; and the crispy rice salad is delicious (even if not as good as the one at Thip Khao).  Unfortunately there are many downsides.  Service is spotty at best.  I've had several meals where we desperately tried to flag down servers, dishes were forgotten, water was never refilled, etc.  The cocktails are so-so and often taste quite watered down -- maybe too much use of quickly melting ice?  And other than the crispy rice salad, the food has been mixed.  I've generally liked items on the vegan menu.  A whole branzino was solid.  Grilled beef and pork were both overcooked.  Steamed catfish was so so.  I love having another Laotian option in DC, and I hope this place improves. But it needs a lot of work.  

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to back you up a bit, here's my report on my blog on our dinner at laos in town exactly three weeks ago. we liked the food fine---especially after two meals in a row featuring heavy meat dishes and fried food---but nothing really jumped out. service was not good. but i'd still recommend it to people visiting from places where there are no lao restaurants.

in my write-up i actually spend more time wondering about the question about why/how it is that dc has more lao restaurants than the twin cities even though the twin cities has twice the lao population.

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5 hours ago, mongo jones said:

in my write-up i actually spend more time wondering about the question about why/how it is that dc has more lao restaurants than the twin cities even though the twin cities has twice the lao population.

DC is a Laozi food town - you should ask him.

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we had some great carryout from there this weekend. because it was our first visit, we played it a bit safe and mostly ordered dishes we know and like at Thip Khao.

The crispy rice salad is great. i love this at thip khao too, but the two salads are different. the version here is less herby and coconutty, but more crispy, savory and sour. I'm not sure which version I like better. I'm not sure if the vegan laab we got was mistakenly missing tofu or if it just had a very small amount of tofu, but either way what we recieved was mostly mushrooms with red onions, in a good tangy dressing. the dressing was good but i wished there was more tofu. I prefer Thip Khao's. On the other hand, the Orm was really good, and much better than the version at Thip Khao, which i find too bland. The Orm here has a nice sour flavor and lots of dill. The Mieng Kana Tofu was wonderful, and I believe they do a shrimp version of this as well. The combination of soft fresh broccoli leaf, slippery rice noodles, crispy tofu and a fantastic herbal sauce is so complex in flavor and texture, it's great. 

Overall the dishes are significantly smaller than at thip khao, but the prices are smaller too. the person taking my order and bringing me my food was very nice and the place was pretty. 

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Had a good takeout experience at Laos in Town last weekend. Crispy rice salad and sun dried beef were favorites. @MichaelBDC liked his Laab Moo enough but preferred the other versions we have had, especially at Beau Thai. Northern noodle was also great option and reminded me of the Khao Soi Gai I've had at Baan Thai. Carryout was done through their patio window and was very efficient. 

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