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#TravelTuesday – Khe-Yo – Restaurant Review – Experience Lao Culture & Cuisine in NYC. Want to be on the in? Then you must visit the only Laotian restaurant in NYC!
Khe-Yo is located on a small side street in the heart of Tribeca, in lower Manhattan. I discovered this place when looking for someplace new to try during Restaurant Week, but then I was back just a few weeks later. For me to go to the same restaurant twice in one month with all the variety NYC has to offer, you know this place has got to be good. Close to public transportation, it is easy to get to and afterwards, you can go to a stroll throughout Chinatown, which is a short 10 minute walk away.
There is a very rustic, natural feel to the restaurant from the wood and chain sign outside to the dark, wooden furniture. The menu is a simple piece of paper attached to a wooden background, while bamboo baskets decorate the restaurant. Even though I am yet to visit, I can imagine sitting in some roadside eatery in Vientiane with the same kind of atmosphere. You are definitely transported across the oceans to Laos with the ambience of the restaurant.
Sure atmosphere is great, but it’s not worth anything if the food pales in comparison. Well, I can promise you, you won’t be disappointed by Khe-yo. The menu is just a one sheeter, but it has enough variety you won’t feel like you need anything more. I went for lunch both times I visited. You have the options of Pho, Bahn Mi or Market Bowls. Market Bowls offer a base of sticky rice, noodles or Romaine hearts and then you choose your protein of salmon, prawns, chicken or steak. I definitely want to back for dinner and try the Bamboo Ginger Quail and the Wok Seared Lobster & Noodles, but before I get to what I want to try, let’s evaluate what I tried.
Do you Bang Bang? Bang Bang is sticky rice served with a fiery hot sauce and eggplant relish. I don’t usually like eggplant, but I could not stop eating this. I believe some dried fish was included, which is often the case in Southeast Asian cuisine. It was smoky, sweet and salty all at the same time. Lao cuisine is rice based. The ubiquitous sticky rice is served both in bang bang and with many of the dinner main courses as well as an option in the lunch market bowls. Not to mention the AMAZING vanilla rice pudding. Whether it’s garnished with blood orange or pomegranate, this was the perfect way to end the meal, especially for this rice pudding fanatic. Oh but I’ve already gotten to dessert. Let’s go back to the other parts of the meal.
First of all, how they manage to get fresh water coconuts always available in NYC in winter time is truly amazing to me. These young coconuts are FULL of fresh coconut water and tender, coconut meat that you can scrape out during your meal to enhance the flavor of your food. The second time I went to Khe-Yo I brought my Caribbean mom with me and for her, this was her favorite part of the entire meal because she gets it so rarely. She spent half the meal scraping out all of the meat in everytbody’s coconut, making sure no one left any behind. She ended up taking home a cup of coconut meat…only my Mother…what ya gonna do?
I am not usually a fan of American style tuna where thick tuna steaks are seared and the inside is raw. Their thin sliced tuna was seared, but because of the thinness it was not raw inside and seasoned perfectly. Another think I tried during the Restaurant Week men was a Five Spice Crispy Duck Leg. This and all the food has that perfect balance of Southeast Asian food – smoky, sweet, spicy, sour and bitter. What’s great is the accompaniments are always served on the side, so you never have to wonder of your food being too spicy. The pickled vegetables served with everything really add a whole other level to flavor to every plate.
However, I would say my favorite was the Lollipop Chicken Wings with the Sweet Chili Glaze. Not too sweet and perfectly fried crispy skin, it was perfect and we ordered several orders for the table as they were just so good – everybody wanted more!
Everything is delicious and with the spice left up to you to add as you wish, no one will be complaining that the food is too spicy.
Not only is the food good, but it’s good for you. They use all locally sourced meat from all natural purveyors including Bell & Evans and source their produce and other supplies from local farmers.
Customer Service was excellent. Staff is friendly and helpful, there when you need them but not overly pushy or intrusive. Any special requests or questions, they easily volunteered to ask the chef. Waitstaff is knowledgeable, able to answer most questions about the menu.
The restaurant is co-owned by celebrity chef Marc Forgione, of Food Network’s the Next Iron Chef fame, Nick Bradley and Phet Schwader, growing up in Kansas but of Laotian heritage. Along with Nick Bradley, the three chefs met at AZ working under Patricia Yeo and they have now united to form an amazing culinary family uniting the heritage and skill of Schwader with the culinary mastery of Forgione and Bradley.
I give Khe-Yo 5 stars. I really couldn’t find anything to complain about!
157 Duane Street
New York City, NY
#ad – This is a sponsored post, however all opinions expressed are from my own experience and impressions.
…Just in case you missed it, also check out my Restaurant Review of Narobia’s in Savannah!