For many restaurants, the downside of serving pan-Asian fare is that the different ethnicities can become a mediocre blur. The family-owned strip-mall eatery known as Muang LAO Cuisine in far north Fort Worth indeed dabbles in a bit of Thai, a little Laotian, and a dash of Chinese. Far from bland and muddled, though, the menu items sampled during a recent nighttime visit were distinctive and top quality.
From a traditional appetizer list that includes items like spring rolls, pot stickers, and crab Rangoon, we tried the Lao-style sausage. It arrived as small-ish slices of pork and beef sausage that had been deep-fried until they were a little chewy on the outside but steaming hot and tender on the inside. The flavor included an intricate mix of seasonings that were sweet, spicy, and very satisfying.
On the fried rice and noodles side of the menu, the pad si-eiew with chicken turned out to be marvelous, featuring flat rice noodles almost as thick and satiny as dumplings, with hearty scraps of scrambled egg, fresh crisp broccoli florets, and large, satiny green leaves that looked like spinach but turned out to be Chinese broccoli. The leafy veggie was slightly bitter and contrasted wonderfully with the heartiness of the egg, noodles, and lean chunks of chicken breast.
The pad kra tiem with pork managed a very neat trick –– using black pepper as the dominant spice without overpowering the other ingredients with that very assertive, prickly zest. The crisp broccoli florets returned along with thin, crunchy slices of carrots, plugs of lean tender pork, and an undercurrent of fresh garlic that was earthy and delicious. Like many of the dishes, pad kra tiem was served with generous portions of sticky white rice, a Laotian staple.
The peanut chicken was also very good, thanks to the sauce. Too many Thai/Asian restaurants prepare a peanut sauce that’s so thick and sweet it makes the dish taste like dessert. The sauce here was thin with crunchy bits of ground peanut and a strong natural nuttiness that mixed well with the lean chicken breast slices, broccoli florets, and crisp bean sprouts.
Muang LAO Cuisine may not offer anything revolutionary on the Thai/Lao/Chinese food front, but what it does serve is thoughtfully prepared with fresh ingredients and is very tasty.
Muang LAO Cuisine
5111 N Beach St, Ste 180, FW. 682-647-1197. 11am-9pm daily. All major credit cards accepted.
Lao-style fried sausage ………… $4.95
Pad si-eiew w/chicken …………. $8.95
Pad kra tiem w/pork ……………… $9.95
Peanut chicken …………………….. $9.95