There are countless Thai and Vietnamese places all over this great city of ours, but when's the last time you ate that other Southeast Asian cuisine, Laotian food? If you're like me, the answer is "um, maybe never?". Well, that's about to change with the opening last week of Khe-Yo by a pair of well-seasoned NYC restaurant vets, renowned Chef Marc Forgione and his longtime kitchen partner Chef Soulayphet Schwader, aka Chef Phet.
Located on Duane Street just a few blocks from Glenwood's Tribeca Bridge and Barclay Towers, Khe-Yo is already attracting a large, lively crowd (and, on the early side on the night, some families with little kids), and seems destined to get slammed this September.
A First Impression of Chef Phet's Food
I went just a few days after Khe-Yo opened, and fell hard for Chef Phet's Laotian creations. This is exciting food, alive with big, interesting flavors and combinations, all prepared with skill and an obvious love for the cuisine. The Khe-Yo menu is tightly focused, with only about 14 dishes total, but everything sounds good and I had a tough time choosing from among Chef Phet's offerings. While I was figuring things out they brought an amazing amuse bouche to the table, a basket of warm sticky rice with two explosive jaews, or dipping sauces: a crock of fiery Bang Bang, and one of a dense, smoky tomato concoction. This is the best "bread basket" I've had in a while.
Diving Into The Khe-Yo Menu
The Khe-Yo menu is divided into three sections, so I ordered one thing from each. My salad was a fantastic Jurgielewicz Duck, with generous amounts of fried duck tongue (which is like fried oysters, consistency wise, but sweet and gamy) and slices of breast laid out upon a lemongrassy mound of greens. My appetizer was just as good, about a half dozen chewy Sesame Beef Jerky sticks, accompanied by an excellent smoked chili paste. And to conclude the trifecta of big-time winners, my entree was a bowl of Pork Jowl Red Curry, the incredibly tender (and nicely fatty) hunks of meat served with jasmine rice and a pile of perfectly grilled, well-salted "fairytale eggplant" and tiny shiitaki mushrooms. So good, all of it. I can't wait for an excuse to get back to Khe-Yo and try some more.
More Information: Khe-Yo
Khe-Yo is located on Duane Street between West Broadway and Hudson Street, and is now open for dinner Monday through Saturday from 5:30 to 11:00. In the Fall, Forgione and Schwader plan on adding lunch, including a take-out Laotian sandwich window. For more information and a look at the complete menu, visit Khe-Yo online!