By Sara Newberry
Zaap Kitchen Lao & Thai Street Eats is a new spot on Greenville Avenue offering Lao and Thai food. What is Lao food, you ask? Well, it’s the native cuisine of Laos, a small landlocked country located between Thailand and Vietnam. It’s similar to Northern Thai and Vietnamese cuisines in that it uses many of the same ingredients: fish sauce, rice, lemongrass and tamarind, to name a few. But more than a few of what might be your favorite Thai dishes — laab, sticky rice, green papaya salad — are actually Laotian in origin. Zaap Kitchen offers a mix of both Lao dishes and Thai dishes.
We tried a mix of them, ranging from a basic spring roll to a more unfamiliar version of papaya salad. Our reactions to them also ran the gamut; some dishes we really enjoyed and others we did not respond to.
A laab salad is what I’ve come to expect; ground chicken mixed with herbs and lime, served with lettuce. It was light and flavorful; great for lunch or light dinner during hot weather. It was the best dish I tried at Zaap Kitchen. Spring rolls were also tasty; perfectly crisp and filled with a well-seasoned mix of ingredients. Crispy wings were also spot on, with crunchy exterior and tasty interior.
Tom Kha, a coconut-based soup, was a lovely mix of flavors, the creamy coconut mingling with tangy lime and tomatoes to create a balanced dish. Red curry also contained a good mix of flavors, with a healthy amount of heat as well.
Dancing Garlic Riblets were fine, but a little flat, without the layers that the other dishes had. A Lao-style papaya salad garnered a mixed reaction. It was definitely interesting, but the flavors of the crab paste and chiles were too intense for me.
Zaap Kitchen is fast-casual, with orders placed at the counter then delivered to your table. The atmosphere is comfortable and warm, though.
I like that Zaap Kitchen is endeavoring to bring more attention to Lao cuisine. I look forward to trying more of the menu!
Zaap Kitchen Lao & Thai Street Eats
6107 Greenville Ave
Open 7 days 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.