NYC restaurant Khe-Yo has been serving Laotian-inspired cuisine in TriBeCa for almost three years now, led by Chef Soulayphet Schwader, or “Phet”—whose family escaped war-torn Laos when he was three, eventually relocating to Wichita, Kansas. This week, Phet has put together a special, shareable menu ($68 per person) celebrating Lao New Year and it’s not for those with sensitive noses. No courses here: everything comes out at once—and you can smell the fermented fish paste long before it even hits the table. Fish jerky (meant to be eaten head, tail and all), poached black bass, crispy duck tongues on salad, bamboo stew are just a few of the dishes, plus an assortment of sauces like charred eggplant and roasted mushrooms to dip veggies in. It’s an exciting occasion to try flavors and ingredients you’re not familiar or comfortable with, especially Laotian cuisine which isn’t as easy to find as Thai.
Phet’s mother Soubanh has come from her home in Kansas to perform “su-kwan”: blessing diners with good luck, and tying special bracelets brought from Wichita for a cleansed spirit in the coming year (thankfully holding off on the tradition of throwing water). The Laos New Year tasting menu is available until 16 April 2016, but Khe-Yo’s nam khao (crunchy coconut rice) and whole caramelized red snapper are worth coming back any day of the week.
Images by Cool Hunting