Me Lovin' Lao Long Time

One of the things I love about Chicago is the ample cuisines accessible for me to try out. Each month I take my group to a different neighborhood of the city for a culinary and cultural adventure as part of my ethnic food tours. This month we had our fill of Southeast Asia where we enjoyed a fabulous Laotian lunch and shopped at the Thai asian market next door.

Lao cuisine is rather new in Chicago because there is only one Lao restaurant in the city. This restaurant is Sabai Dee. Some may be quick to compare Laotian cuisine to Thai or even Vietnamese... however it is a cuisine completely different and very unique. The following is taken from Wikipedia, since they do a better job describing the cuisine:

"Lao cuisine is the cuisine of the Lao ethnic group of Laos and Northeast Thailand. Lao food is distinct from other Southeast Asian cuisines. The staple food of the Lao is sticky rice. Galangal and fish sauce are important ingredients. The Lao national dish is laap (sometimes also spelled larb), a spicy mixture of marinated meat and/or fish that is sometimes raw (prepared like cevich) with a variable combination of greens, herbs, and spices. Another characteristic dish is tam mak houng, a spicy green papaya salad. Lao cuisine has many regional variations, according in part to the fresh foods local to each region. A French influence is also apparent in the capital city, Vientiane, such that baguettes are sold on the street, and French restaurants (often with a naturally Lao, Asian-fusion touch) are common and popular. Vietnamese cuisine is also popular in Laos."

I'm now a big fan of Lao cuisine... especially their larb. I don't normally eat much beef, but I have to say that one of my fave dishes I tried is the beef larb. I'm still craving it! Here are pictures of the restaurant where I hosted the event and the wonderful lunch we had:

Sabai Dee
5359 N Broadway Unit AChicago, IL 60640

Papaya Salad

Beef Larb

Green Curry Chicken

Tamarind Soup

Tofu Stir Fry over Pan Fried Noodles

Pork Stir Fry over Pan Fried Noodles
Egg Custard (and Fresh Mango) over Sweet Sticky Rice

Our hungry friends mingling before lunch:

Shots of the restaurant's steam table offerings:


  1. Ate here recently and I really liked it. The egg and tofu dish in the steam table was delicious.

  2. That looks SO GOOD! I love green papaya salad and larb. I'm jealous of your big city life. Here in my little town we have no interesting ethnic restaurants. I have to drive 3 hours to LA or San Francisco to get my fix.

  3. I've never had Laotian food, but with the cultural history of the Laotian people and similarities to some of my other favorite cuisines, I bet I'd love it!

  4. What a spectacular looking meal! I've never had Laotian but it looks delicious. You are lucky to live in a city with such culinary diversity. I'm now convinced I need to go on a culinary vacation to eat my way through Chicago!

  5. Thanks for taking all the photos -- that restaurant looks realy tantalizing. You've piqued my interest... tamarind soup... mmmm. Must do some research now...

  6. Their Beef Larb looks amazing! Did you eat it with Sticky Rice? That's the traditional way of eating Larb...using your hand to make a tiny ball with the sticky rice, flattening it, and then scooping up the Larb with the sticky rice.