3 Jul, 2013
Crunchy Fried Rice with Lao Style Ham
Most amazing Lao sausages – porky and fatty
Hands down the best Lao style Paw Paw Salad in Fairfield City
Cripsy and tender ox-tongue. I think that was an oxymoron, but its possible at Lao Village.
Classic chicken feet salad
Raw Prawn Salad
Vermicelli Salad with Beef Balls & no meal is complete without Thai Red Bull
1-3 Anzac Avenue
Fairfield NSW 2165
I had been meaning to pay Lao Village another visit after I had heard word it was being renovated. This news surprised me because for the 18 years I’ve lived in Australia, Lao Village had always been a familiar haunt for me and and my family and never once has it changed. I was intrigued as to what it’d be like after renovation, so I asked my best friend to come with me. Kate and her family has also been paying visits to this unassuming restaurants for years and we both agreed that they had the best authentic Thai/Lao dishes in Fairfield, and maybe even Fairfield City itself.
So after work on a Wednesday we met up with two other friends at Lao Village on a small and quiet street across Fairfield RSL. I had thought they’d finished their renovation by now, but upon arriving I realized otherwise. The familiar bright blue-painted brick walls greeted me as if I was ten again and I observed the faded artworks of dog-headed figures playing pool and poker whilst smoking cigarettes and drinking whiskey. I remember a painting of a ballerina at some point, but it must have been taken down since then.
The joint was packed out for a cold Wednesday night and I quickly grab a table as I noticed other groups/family arriving at the front entrance (super selfish – there was someone in a wheelchair but did I care?). My friends arrived one by one and we ordered. Maylee was the first to order, she gets Crunchy Fried Rice with Lao Style Ham ($8), Vermicelli Salad with Beef Balls ($8) and a glass of cold coconut juice ($2.50 per glass). I grab the usual for me and Kate – Lao’s style paw-paw salad ($8) with medium hotness, Sticky Rice ($2.50 each), Ox Tongue ($8) and Chicken Feet salad ($8).
The first dish to arrive is the Fried Rice and as promised it’s crunchy with a good balance of flavor. The Lao Style Ham adds a little bit of a sour bite to the dish which is always in my favour. The ox-tongue comes out next and it’s nice and brown – slightly crispy on the outside but soft and tender on the inside. The sticky rice is pretty standard – you know, it was cooked and soft and sticky, the way it’s meant to be.
My long awaited dish arrives next – Lao style paw-paw salad. Thai style does not even compare. I love everything about this pungent dish. The salad is made in a mortar with raw crab preserved in brine, fermented fish paste, fish sauce, dried shrimp, shrimp paste and the usual Asian condiments (garlic, sugar, lime and chilli) to balance out the flavour and mask the overly pungent fishy smell of the dish. I’d imagine those not used to the dish would find it revolting and smelly but we’re loving it. Again it’s got a good balance of flavour, salty and not too sweet with the limes lending a bit of sourness to the dish.
After about 15 minutes of devouring our food (within this small timeframe Maylee’s made a pile of peanuts cos she hates this type of peanut and she’s also abandoned her coconut juice cos it was ‘too sweeet’ wut?) we’re ready to order a few more dishes – Lao’s Sausages ($8) and Kate’s personal favourite – Raw Prawn Salad ($12). You heard right – I did just say ‘raw prawn’. We also order three Thai Red Bulls ($3.00 each) and a coconut juice for Kate.
The Lao’s sausages came out and Elizabeth takes one bite and announces that it’s best Lao’s sausages she’s tasted. Maylee also take a sip of the Thai Red Bull and decides it’s ‘da shizz’. Our raw prawn salad comes out and both Maylee and Elizabeth give it a try. I say good on them. If you’re wondering what it tastes like, it’s just like cooked prawns but with a much softer and silkier texture. It’s divine with the slightly sweet, sour and chilli sauce it sits in. It’s served with finely shaved cabbage, chilli and garlic.
During dinner I noticed that the tables never failed to fill up at Lao Village. As one group left, a new group promptly took their place. The air was buzzing with chatter and it felt like I was in Asia and I came to realise maybe this why Lao Village has been around for so long. The idea that they haven’t changed is a true testament to their food. It’s traditional, cheap and yum – what more could you want?
There are countless other Thai/Lao restaurant in Fairfield City, but not even Holy Basil or Green Peppercorn compares to this little joint in a quiet street on the not so busy side of Fairfield. I’m sad to say goodbye to the interior that once defined every thai/lao restuarant experience of my childhood, but excited to see what the new Lao Village looks like. Let’s hope the prices don’t inflate too much hey?
Danny rates Lao Village:
N/A – Danny was MIA