If you have been reading my blog, you know that I love to indulge in local restaurant fare. I avoid chains and most franchises. For me, the dining out experience is about finding local one-of-a-kind places with quality menus. I am a fan of small business. I vote with my dollars. My vote will always go to local independent restaurants, especially those owned by immigrants who are kind enough to share their native cuisine with us.
The Raleigh-Durham area is full of global cuisine. From restaurants to food trucks–we have it all here. I have always been intrigued by spices and ingredients that were not familiar to me. I am no Andrew Zimmerman or Anthony Bourdain, but I do consider myself quite adventurous. Hey, I get one shot at this life as far as I know, and I am going to make sure I taste as much of it as I can!
A recent birthday dinner at Bida Manda, courtesy of a dear friend, gave me an opportunity to visit Laos. Never mind that it was actually a cold, rainy night in Raleigh. I my palate was in Laos. The flavors were similar to Thai, but also reminded me of the many Vietnamese dishes I have enjoyed. It had a distinct Chinese flare, too. It was the perfect fusion of the best of Asian cuisine. The caramelized ginger pork ribs were so tender you could actually eat them with chopsticks and the crispy rice lettuce wraps had me calculating how often I could dine there before I went bankrupt! The lovely birthday dessert plate included a sweet potato creme brulee. Now that is fusion at its finest–Laotian and southern North Carolinian. Well played Chef Lon Bounsanga.
Bida Manda was a journey not just a meal at a restaurant. I will likely never get to experience Laotian food in its native habitat, so I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to travel there via this memorable meal.
When you get the opportunity to go global…take it. Your palate deserves a vacation even if your bank account can’t afford a plane ticket.