Those looking for Asian foods have plenty of places in STL to pick from: Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Thai . . . but no Laotian.
That is, until a few months ago with the opening of Han Lao. The Brentwood restaurant is located in a strip mall just off S. Hanley in the shadow of Home Depot. Finding it is a quest, which makes the discovery all the more exciting. Happily, there’s parking in the back.
Flavors of His Childhood
Thom comes by his love of Laotian cooking naturally. It’s what he ate growing up. His mother was born in Laos and his father in Vietnam. After fleeing the war-torn area, the family settled in Kentucky when Thom was only four.
Today Thom wants to share the flavors he enjoyed as a youngster with his own children and friends. His new restaurant has a mod feel with an open kitchen behind the bar and seating, that includes a raised communal counter, booths, and tables.
An Open Kitchen and a Wide Menu
While the contemporary decor catches your eye, it’s the menu with its wide array of Loatian-Thai dishes that grabs you by the taste buds.
What to Order?
As I often do when looking at a new menu, I ask the server which items are most frequently ordered. I’ve tried asking, “Which dishes are best?” but too often the response is, “They’re all good.”
But if I ask the frequency question, I get a more direct answer. Our server pointed to the Khao Poon, a dish much like pho and I went with it. The dish included fresh vegetable, noodles, red cabbage, onions, bean sprouts, herbs and small bits of pork dancing in a well-flavored broth.
Cyndy ordered the other recommendation from our server: Pad See Ew Chicken, a Thai stir fry with noodles and broccoli. Both of our selections were splendid without being overly spicy.
A Menu to Explore
I’ve yet to try the Blue Crab Rangoon (made with real crab). I also have my eye on the Lao Sausage with a side of Sticky Rice, Fried Egg Roll Lettuce Wraps, Crispy Ribs with house glaze, Pad Thai, and the Red and Yellow Curries. Yes, I must return—and soon!
Since the menu doesn’t say which items are spicy, it’s a good ideas to ask and adjust your order accordingly.
When you’re hungry for something more than pizza or tacos, treat yourself to some comfort Laotian food at Han Lao.
Han Lao. 1250 Strassner Dr., Brentwood just off S. Handley Rd near Home Depot. Open: Mon-Fri for Lunch 1130a-3p and Dinner 5p-9p; Sat 11:30a-10p; Closed Sunday. Owner: Thom Chantharasy. Menu.
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