Best Place to Be An Adventurous Eater Without Hitting the Suburbs

Thip Khao
3462 14th St. NW, (202) 387-5426
Photograph by Darrow Montgomery
When chef Seng Luangrath opened her first restaurant, Bangkok Golden, in Falls Church, she didn’t put her native Laotian food on the menu, fearing that Americans wouldn’t like the spicy, pungent flavors. Instead, the restaurant served staple Thai dishes. But she soon realized that wasn’t true at all, and added a Laotian menu, which is now the more popular of the two. At her new Columbia Heights restaurant, Thip Khao, Luangrath goes a step further. Not only is she focusing exclusively on Laotian food, she’s devoted an entire section of the menu to its most unusual delicacies. A sheet of “Let’s Go to the Jungle!” specials include a pig’s ear noodle salad with spicy tamarind sauce, an herb-spiked beef tartare with beef tripe, and a coconut red curry soup with pork blood cake. Among the more adventurous seasonal dishes was a tree ant egg salad, featuring toasted rice powder, fish sauce, lime juice, chili powder, fresh lemongrass, mint, cilantro, and onions. Luangrath calls it “Laos caviar.”