Taste of Thai in Ridgewood: Closed
Wayne Steakhouse: Wayne, NJ

Pho Thai-Lao Kitchen : Maywood, NJ

I've only had take-out from this a place a few times, but this dish was so good that I'm compelled to share some details.

  Crispy fish larb at Pho Lao Thai Maywood

Crispy Fish Larb, Lao-style

This friendly, family run restaurant has two menus:  Thai, and Lao.  The owner has both Thai and Lao family members (dad and mom, from what I understand), which goes to explain the combination of cuisines.

These cuisines are somewhat similar (although I don't recall having any truly Lao before this place), although not the same.  Most notably to my mind is that Lao cuisine is a less sweet and more acidic than its Thai cousin.  Larb is a traditional Lao dish, and one you'll find on most Thai menus.  It tends to be a bit on the sweeter side at Thai places, but the Lao version is full of brightness. 

I had the crispy fish larb for lunch recently, which really made an impression on me.

BIts of crispy fish, kaffir lime leaf, lime juice, cilantro, fish sauce IINM, scallion, served with sticky rice, lettuce, and some cabbage.  I was tempted to return that night for dinner just to have this dish again.

One thing you should note is that the Lao dishes can be very spicy, with the heat coming from dried chili powder.  You can ask for this potent stuff on the side.  On a range of 1-5, which is what they offer, I found 2 to be perfectly spiced for lunch.  I might ramp it up to 3 for dinner.  I'm afraid of what 5 is like.

If you visit this place, and you should, be sure to stop by the Thai grocer, Teri's Asian Grocery, two doors down. They have been there for years (I had no idea it existed...the last Thai grocer I knew was in Hackensack, and they closed a few years ago), and have all of your Thai goodies, including the hard-to-find fresh kaffir lime leaf.

Pho Thai-Lao Kitchen : 219 Maywood Ave : Maywood, NJ : 201.712.0700