Lao Village, Fairfield

14 October 2011
by Phuoc

They say that the restaurants with minimal decor often serve the some of the best food. This surely is the case when it comes to a visit to Lao Village in Fairfield. Tucked away down a street which could be mistaken as empty, this little joint can be easily overshadowed by the extravagant Fairfield RSL across the road. I have vague memories of visiting this restaurant when I was a child. We would always go here for ox tongue and sticky rice until my dad figured out how to re-create it at home, so we haven’t been ever since.

As per usual we order pretty much the same things at every Laotian restaurant we go to. There’s the staple ox tongue, lao sausage, paw paw salad, larb (raw beef salad), nam khao (crunchy ball salad) and sticky rice.

Besides “yuck”, I think when most people think of ox tongue they associate it with korean BBQs. The laotian way is kinda like grilling a fillet of the tongue and then slicing it into thin strips. Possibly my favourite laotian dish but unfortunately, most of the ox tongue ($8) was slightly on the chewy side; possibly having been grilled for too long. For me, the perfect ox tongue has to have slightly crisp edges but remain tender and juicy.

In my opinion, larb (beef salad) ($8) should only be eaten raw. I know people may have issues with raw meat and feel safer if the meat has been thoroughly cooked, but it just tastes better when served raw (I’m sure you can probably get it cooked if you ask). In comparison to the larb we have at Twelve Spices, this one isn’t as heavy-handed with the shallots and coriander (a good thing) but the ground rice is a little too fine, I like it slightly coarse for the additional textual component. The flavours are nicely balanced although it does punch more of a kick for mild, but that’s what the complimentary cabbage is for, to dampen the spiciness.

There are two pawpaw salads offered. I prefer the Lao version over Thai; the difference is that the sauce for the Lao version is crab/anchovy based whilst the Thai version is tamarind/fish sauce based. Lao pawpaw salad ($8) features long slivers of unripe papaya which is bashed with a balanced sweet, sour, salty and spicy sauce and topped with dried shrimp. This salad is crunchy and wonderfully balanced in flavours.

Something we don’t normally have at asian restaurants is quails. A large serving of quails ($13) offers 12 pieces of fragrant and fried quail, served with a dipping sauce of salt, pepper and lemon. Bargain! Yes it is fiddly to eat, but the succulent and gamey meat makes it all worth while.

The raw prawn salad ($12) is loaded with chilli and served on a bed of shredded raw cabbage, with a squeeze of lemon juice, the prawns are “cooked”. There’s a bit resistance as you bite into these soft squishy prawns but the shredded cabbage provides a nice contrast of texture and flavour to numb the fiery and bold flavours used to dress this salad.

Possibly the best Lao pork sausage ($8) I’ve ever had at a restaurant. Filled with aromatic spices and having a texture completely different to others, the crisp exterior and soft and juicy innards keeps me coming back for more.

Nam khao (crunchy ball salad) ($8) is possibly the ultimate fried rice out there. The rice is shaped into balls and fried until crispy, upon service they are smashed up, leaving a medley of crunchy chunks of rice and fluffy rice to be devoured. What also makes this fried rice special is a sour element contributed by the Laotian-style cured pork. A must try dish!

To round off everything that we had, prawn tom yum soup ($12) was ordered. Fragrant with a balanced and subtle sour and sweet flavour, this soup definitely hit the spot to calm down the heat from all the spicy dishes we had. The best thing about finishing our meal off with this soup is pouring it in a bowl of sticky rice and chowing down on it.

The service is quick and friendly and the food comes out when it is ready as oppose to coming out all at once. But the best thing is that it is cheap and authentic. There is a local vibe to this small restaurant and it does often get fairly busy, we were here on a Tuesday night and it got packed as we were finishing up. So if you feel like you don’t know much about Laotian food, I’d recommend you check this place out, all the items on the menu come with pictures to assist you in making a decision which is a bonus.

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16 Comments

  1. Richard Elliot

    Raw beef and prawns, they certainly love their raw food! I’ve never seen a raw laab in Thailand, interesting that they serve it raw over the border.

    I like the sound of the friend rice…

  2. Tina @ bitemeshowme

    This is my brother’s favouriteeeeeeeee place to eat laos food. I have to get myself sometime soon! Food definitely looks authentic!

  3. Steph

    Yummm Linda took me here and omg you’re right the pork sausage is so damn good. And I was so in love with all the lovely crunchy bits of rice in the Nam khao.

  4. Tammy

    I was craving this place the other day! I usually order the same things as well, but haven’t tried the larb or the raw prawn salad though. Will definitely try them next time!

  5. nic@diningwithastud

    Mmmmm pork sausage! The raw prawn salad sounds FAB!

  6. Sara (Belly Rumbles)

    I really want to try the crunch ball salad!

  7. Katherine

    Wow I have never actually tried raw Larb before. I always thought of larb to be cooked mince with a herb salad. You have really opened up my eyes and made me curious. The food looks delicious…

  8. Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse)

    This is seriously making me hungry! Even more so as my GP hinted to me a couple of days ago that I could think about losing some weight… >_<

  9. catty

    Oh man that all looks great. I personally love ox tongue, in any form, but preferably super thin :) also love raw beef (Korean yook hwei!!).. and that raw prawn salad looks great!!

  10. Hotly Spiced

    It looks great if you would like an inexpensive night out with no frills, just great food.

  11. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    So true about plain restaurants serving up great food! I’;m intrigued by the crunchy ball salad! :o

  12. Phuoc

    Richard: I’m not too sure why it would be served raw either but who cares? It tastes great and that’s all that matters :)

    Tina: Do try it out when you get the chance, it’s awesome! Us westies are very lucky to have this diversity of cuisines so close to home.

    Steph: I’m craving for the pork sausage, it’s the bomb! Crunchy bits are the best part of the nam khao!

    Tammy: You have to give them a go next time you go back.

    Nic: Can’t really fault the food much here. I love it!

    Sara: Next time you’re in the hood I’ll take you :)

    Katherine: I think not that many people know a lot about Lao food, I urge you to try it out one day. It’s fab!

    Rita: No…! That’s the saddest thing I’ve heard all day :( Everything in moderation Rita!

    Catty: I think I’ve had the Korean raw beef salad too (from memory it was frozen sticks of beef served with sticks of nashi pear – YUM!)

    Hotly Spiced: Indeed, gotta love restaurants like that. It’s all about the food!

    Lorraine: You should definitely check it out one day, it is the best, I love the contrast in textures and well-balanced flavours of this rice dish

  13. foodie @ Tasting Spot

    i really like your food pictures and want to invite you to try out tastingspot.com. it’s for anyone that just wants another place to submit photos and share it will other foodies. It’s still in beta version, but would love for you to start adding some photos and help get it going.

  14. Martyna @ WholesomeCook

    I like the sound of all the dishes, but especially the raw prawn salad. Had in HK once in a Japanese restaurant but the dressing on this looks irresistible. PS Is that tripe with the raw beef?

  15. Vivian - vxdollface

    hmm never had Laos food before but it does looks quite interesting! Surprised by the sashimi style dishes

  16. Phuoc

    Foodie: Thanks :)

    Martyna: Sure is, tripe is definitely in that raw beef salad :)

    Vivian: You should give it a go one day

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