Lunch Pick: Lao Vientiane, Laotian and Thai-Style Cuisine

Ever since Jess Keoxayavong was a little girl, she dreamed of having her own restaurant. Growing up in a small village in northern Laos, Jess was taught the beauty of traditional Laotian cuisine by her mother. She furthered her knowledge living at a convent in her teenage years, where she was offered additional culinary training. She diligently kept a diary of all her favourite recipes, and was never afraid to get her hands dirty if it meant developing her skills. Top Photo: Gang Phed with spring rolls (choice of chicken, pork or beef with bamboo shoots, red pepper, eggplant, coconut milk and fresh basil leaves in red curry, served with a side of steamed rice and salad). Photos by Ellie Shortt

Keoxayavong moved to Victoria four years ago and brought with her the flavours of her country by introducing traditional Laotian fare to the families that she worked for as a nanny. She then gained experience as a professional chef through The Little Thai Place, where she added a personal touch to the curries and other dishes offered by this popular Victoria business. But now Keoxayavong has a business of her own, thanks in part to the love and support of her husband and resident taste-tester Glenn Gibson, and it seems her greatest wishes have come true.


Owner/Chef Jess Keoxayavong

Since opening in August 2011, Lao Vientiane has received rave reviews and a steady stream of satisfied customers. Keoxayavong and Gibson transformed the former Tino’s Restaurant location into a bright and friendly dining destination, perfect for large groups, families, business meetings and casual dates. Their menu, consisting of over 60 dishes, caters to all palates and dietary needs, with a vast assortment of vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy free options made from local and fresh ingredients. Almost every item is made in-house and comes from Keoxayavong’s recipe diary, making for some extremely authentic and unique dishes. Traditional Laotian cuisine is similar to Thai cuisine in that they both use a similar set of spices and base recipes. However, Keoxayavong explains that the major difference is the quantity and order that the spices and ingredients are added to the dish, noting that her personal spin on traditional recipes (like their homemade peanut sauce) is what sets this restaurant apart from competitors.


Kua Pho Puk (Lao rice noodles stir-fried with bean sprouts, egg, tofu and green onions in a house made sweet and sour sauce

Keoxayavong’s favourite dish, Kao Piak Sen is a flavourful soup consisting of Lao udon noodles, marinated boneless chicken, green onions, dried garlic and onion flakes and fresh cilantro. This warming and satisfying meal is only $9.99, and along with Kua Pho Puk (Lao rice noodles stirfried with bean sprouts, egg, tofu and green onions in a housemade sweet and sour sauce) and Kao Krapao Gai Khai Dao (stirfried chicken with bamboo shoots, baby corn and red pepper in a housemade spicy sauce served with steamed rice and a fried egg), is one of many menu items patrons can enjoy for under $10.


Reasonable prices, along with convenient free parking away from the buzz of downtown, make for a perfect leisurely lunch spot that will transport your taste buds to South East Asia with each bite. For those looking for an authentic beverage to enjoy with their delicious meal, Lao Vientiane offers a Laotian lager, Beerlao, as well as the always-popular Thai Ice Tea and Thai Ice Coffee.


But whether you’re there for a beer, curry, stirfry, or to simply grab some great food to go, Keoxayavong’s number one priority is customer

Laotian lager, Beerlao

satisfaction. More than anything, Keoxayavong wants her patrons to leave happy and full, with an unwavering desire to come back for more, accompanied by an ever-growing group of interested friends and family. A generous heart and a passion for food make Keoxayavong a truly dedicated chef and owner, and although Lao Vientiane has only been around for 5 months, her family business has already proven to be a fantastic lunch choice that will put Laotian food on the local culinary radar.


The time: Dishes take 15-25 minutes depending on how busy they are (but well worth the wait for this delicious made-to-order food)

The cost: All lunch specials and lunch combinations are $8.99 ($9.99 if spring rolls are added). Everything else ranges from $4.99 for Por Pia Tod (deep fried vegetable spring rolls) to $15.99 for Lab Ped (chopped duck with ground roasted rice, chilli powder, green onions, shallots, mint, fresh lime juice and cilantro)

When they’re open: Monday-Saturday 11:30am-2:00pm, 5:00pm-9:30pm, Sunday 5:00pm-9:00pm


Lao Vientiane Restaurant: #701-771 Vernon Ave Victoria, BC (250-475-3522) Website









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