Now that I have some extra time at home, I have the chance to play catch up on a few posts.
I now have a favorite restaurant in the Bay Area, and so do you! Over a month ago I finally ventured to the Green Papaya Deli, a Lao restaurant in Oakland, and was blown away by their laap pa, or fish salad. It was fresh, spicy, and herby, just like one would expect. Paired with some sticky rice and I was in heaven.
This was all fine and good, but I would need to come back with reinforcements...
For my next visit I came back with a friend and long term resident of SE Asia whose knowledge of the food far surpasses mine.
Digging into the menu my companion was excited and hopeful about what he saw. For the most part though, we kept it pretty safe and simple. We started with a papaya salad.
It was what we would hope from a papaya salad. It wasn't that it blew us away, it was just a very competent mix of flavors. It was fresh, well balanced and boy was it spicy. We figured if an establishment can't do this right, all else is lost. My companion likes his with the addition of dried shrimp, so I didn't stand in his way.
We also ordered a laap gai, or chicken "salad". Once again, a very good laap without anything missing. It may sound funny, but whenever I order food like this around here, I've come to expect disappointment. Laap isn't unusual, but unfortunately one that really bursts with flavor and spices like this is.
And finally, the highlight for the both of us, soup nor mai. A bamboo shoot stew common in Isaan and Laos. How do I explain this one? Well for one, the bamboo shoots were fresh, not canned. It was a seemingly simple and comforting stew that also packed a punch. A bite with sticky rice was just about perfect.
All of these dishes were fresh, tasty, and spicy. We were both in a bit of delightful pain. One of our servers, the daughter of the woman making our food, told us she was impressed with our ability to eat so much spicy food. We thanked her for the wonderful food a couple of times. Getting people to believe that you do in fact want your food spicy can be a challenge. All through the meal we were making plans for out next visit. My dining companion was there again the very next night. It was that good.
Green Papaya Deli
207 International Blvd
Oakland, CA 94606