6395 Seven Corners Center
Falls Church, VA 22044
The Washington, DC has very few Lao restaurant options, despite the fast growing Asian cuisine scene in the area. So when I was researching Asian restaurants to go to with my friends in Alexandria on my trip to DC a month ago, I was pleasantly surprised to see Padaek as an entry for not only Thai cuisine, but Lao as well. Always one to help introduce other friends to new Asian cuisines, I eagerly asked them if they wanted to try and they were definitely game.
On a Monday night after work we met up and headed to Falls Church near the notoriously difficult to navigate Seven Corners area of Fairfax County. Inside a fairly nondescript strip mall was Padaek, decorated in Halloween themed decor for the then-upcoming holidays.
We sat down and browsed the menu, which included a front two pages of Lao dishes and a back two pages of more familiar Thai dishes. We decided to order a few dishes from the Lao side only and ordered the following:
- Sai Oua – This classic appetizer dish of Lao sausage came with sticky rice, lemongrass, dill, and ginger. The sausage was flavorful by itself with a blend of spices that perfectly accentuated the fattiness of the pork. The lemongrass and ginger slices helped to cut that and melded really well with the sticky rice.
- Mee Kathi – This noodle soup was a Mohinga like thick/chowder-y noodle soup with thin rice noodles We got this with tofu and even with the tofu, the dish was immensely flavorful with coconut curry and chili.
- Tom Zaap – This soup had a a nice, subtly sour and tangy tamarind and lemongrass taste. This was refreshing with the pork ribs which were very tender and accompanied by more sticky rice! I do wish it was more stew like than soup like, but nonetheless it was tasty, even as we asked for medium spice (which still didn’t feel too spicy).
- Mieng Vientiane – This wrap dish consisted of fried catfish and warp accoutrements like lemongrass, ginger, dill, peanut, tomato, cabbage, and a sweet but slightly spicy fermented soybean-pineapple sauce. The catfish was fried perfectly with great crunch but still flaky and tender meat inside. Combined with the fresh wrap accompaniments, the lettuce wraps had both great textural play and flavor combination between sweet, sour, and spicy. I would highly recommend this dish.
All in all, Padaek was a great Lao experience and allowed me to experience some dishes I can’t even find or haven’t even had in the Bay Area yet! I would definitely be excited to go back and try the other Lao dishes and see how their Thai dishes stand out compared to the many other Thai restaurants in the DC area. If you happen to be traveling in Northern Virginia, I would definitely swing by for a great meal.