Tag Archives: Lao

Lao’De Café (Lowell, MA)

A regular feature of my enjoyment of both cooking and Asian cuisine in general means that occasionally we’ve got to head down to Massachusetts on a run for ingredients. This time, it was a trip down to Penzey’s Spices (my favorite for getting high quality spices), then a trip over to the surprisingly affordable and expansive selection of Indian ingredients at Patel Bros in Waltham, followed by the inevitable trip to H-Mart in Burlington, MA for our Japanese and Korean groceries. After a rather successful trip to all three, we headed back home to New Hampshire, passing through Lowell, MA around dinner time. As you can see from my other reviews around Lowell, it’s a neat little town, with one of the more rich and diverse histories. Named after industrial pioneer Francis Cabot Lowell, Lowell was originally founded as a mill town, replacing farmers’ field in Chelmsford MA with a combination of textile mills, factories, and canals as one of the nation’s earliest industrial centers. After a lull in the mid-20th century as, like almost every other mill town in New England, things moved to the South and overseas, Lowell hit a second wave of development in the late 20th century with a combination of education (Umass-Lowell), computers (Wang was founded in Lowell), and then and interesting demographic change as it became a major center for Southeastern Asian immigrants, forming substantial Cambodian, Laos, Vietnamese, and Indian communities. This gives it a very interesting mix of everything from old school blue-collar diners (like The Owl), Portuguese food (Cavaleiros), over a dozen good Cambodian places , and even a handful of Laos places. Which brings us to Lao’De Café.

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Au Bon Pho (Paris, France)

After a rather pleasant tour of the Palais Garnier (also known as the Paris Opera House), we were ready for some lunch. I always rather enjoy a good phở, and due to their colonial past in Southeast Asia Paris is blessed with more than a few phở joints. We ended up settling on Au Bon Pho tucked down a quiet little road in the 3e arrondissement. But before I get too far into the review, we should talk a bit about “Vietnamese” cuisine. If you are from the US, like I am, chances are your “Vietnamese” food is distinctly “Southern Vietnamese”, because the vast majority of Vietnamese immigrants to the United States came during and immediate after the Vietnam War (hence the preponderance of places named after Saigon, or named with a number, which is often the year the founder came to the US), but there’s actually a rather wide variety of styles of both Vietnamese food in general, and phở in particularly, especially if you also add in influences from nearby Cambodia and Laos. So when I travel outside the US, it’s often interesting to try out other “Vietnamese” places for phở, since often they are drawing from a wider set of culinary influences.

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Noodle Station (Reykjavik, Iceland)

Our last full day in Iceland was mostly spent tooling around Reykjavik. In the morning, we spent most of our time in Reykjavik’s heated pool, Laugardalslaug, which was nice (but wasn’t conducive to cameras…) Afterward, we wandered around downtown again. One place we really wanted to check out was Noodle Station. Noodle Station is one of those places I didn’t find from reviews, or from people waiting in long lines, or from signage. Noodle Station is one of those places that we found purely from the smell. Located on Skolavordustigur just down from Hallgrimskirkja, we couldn’t miss Noodle Station on our first day in Reykjavik; they were prepping for the day, and the entire place smelled of star anise and wonderful soup broth. But that first day, we were never in that part of town when they were open. But now that we were back in Reykjavik, and it was lunchtime, we decided that this time we’d check out Noodle Station.

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