Since it opened last year, the Chinatown fast-casual restaurant known as the Lao’d District has built a devoted clientele.
There’s a great reason. The food is off the charts wonderful.
The idea behind the eatery is to offer some of the best of Laotian and Thai food in one place to excite foodies’ taste buds without busting their wallets.
It does just that, housed as it is in the Bellaire Food Street shopping strip with a welcoming interior that features a massive, black-and-white graffiti street scene from one end to the other. Hip-hop plays in the background as patrons place their orders in person or by QR code.
Terry Phouminh, who had operated a restaurant in the Atlanta area for eight years, moved to Houston after his wife, Theresa Nguyen, found a new job here. He and business partner Francis Doan decided Houston needed a truly authentic Laotian eatery on the food scene along with the culinary delights of Thailand. Terry’s brother, Ricky Phouminh, a partner back at the Georgia restaurant, now works alongside Terry and Francis at Lao’d.
“Some of our traditional recipes – a lot of the noodle dishes – are my mom’s,” he said of his mother, Lizabeth, who immigrated to the U.S. to escape unrest in her homeland. “But we’re constantly working to develop new and exciting dishes that visitors just have to try.”
The eatery’s menu selections include palate-pleasing options like the herbaceous Lao sausage. It’s served with a jeow bong chili sauce, an authentic Laotian dip made of sun-dried chilies, Thai ginger (galangal), garlic, fish sauce and an assortment of other spices. The sauce is a staple in Laotian and Thai cultures.
But what really captured our imagination was the marinated sous vide picanha steak — a cut of beef, from the rump area of a cow, that sits on a layer of fat. It is sliced and made juicy with a sweet and savory lime sauce. Searing the steak perfectly left the slices we enjoyed both rare and tender, served as it was with a side of steamed rice.
That dish is not to be outdone by the “crack belly,” deftly battered and seasoned pork tossed in a sweet chili sauce with lime wedges. Its slight crunch paired with the flavorful sauce made a second to-go portion a must to take home.
We also had traditional Thai curry from a house recipe that features bell peppers, coconut milk, onions, basil, bamboo shoots and, in our case, chicken. It was as wonderful as the Thai curry we’ve tried in California or New York.
Entrée prices are more than reasonable, ranging from $12 to $17.
If one is in a drinking mood, there are sake-infused cocktails like a Lychee puree with a splash of lime juice, topped with orange juice. Other flavors feature Strawberry Basil, Mango and Passion Fruit.
9393 Bellaire Blvd.
laoddistrict on Instagram
Hours: Tue-Sunday: 11 a.m.- 9 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.