Right now Vietnamese food is hotter than ever, you literally cannot swing a dead cat without hitting three different Vietnamese restaurants. However this over-abundance has diluted the quality of the food to fit the palettes of the masses. So when I heard about a Laotian restaurant in Mangwon, I was very excited to try it. I have never been to Laos, but have travelled extensively in neighbouring countries of Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam and loved the food there, so was confident I would enjoy it. The restaurant is located is one of my favourite places, the super cool and trendy neighbourhood of Mangwon. It is a bit of a walk from the station, but a pleasant one and you will pass dozens of other cute and quirky places along the way. The restaurant itself is a mish-mashed style of shabby chic, and fits well with the theme of the food. It is quite small inside with only a smattering of tables, so be prepared to queue if you come at a busy time.
The menu had a nice variety of options, having not any of these particular dishes before, we just went for what looked good and what the waiter recommended. He explained that the noodles here are very popular because they are handmade each morning so they tend to sell out quickly. In the end we ordered the beef tendon noodles, fried noodles, and shrimp cakes.
As we looked around almost everyone was drinking these little cute vases of orangey-brown liquid. it was too adorable to resist so we ordered what turned out to be Lao Ice Tea (5,000). I am really getting into ice tea lately, which would seem like sacrilege back home. The tea was slightly spiced and creamy, and very refreshing. And it being a hot day, we also ordered a Beer Lao (6,000), which really hit the spot and went perfectly with the food.
The first dish to come out was Beef Tendon Noodles (11,000). The dish seemed very reminiscent of Pho, though was slightly different. The broth itself was magical, and really flavourful. The glutinous rice noodles really soaked up the flavour of the soup, so much so we had to ask for more of it, though the owners were happy to oblige. There is a homemade chili sauce that came with it, but we didn’t feel we needed it. The chunks of beef were laced with tendon, and then there were also chunks of gelatinous cartilage which I couldn’t bring myself to eat, but my Korean bestie enjoyed.
Our second noodle dish was the Khua Mee (9,500). These fried rice noodles came in a slightly sweet and salty sauce, with shrimp and broccoli. If you like Asian fried noodles you will love these as much as I did. And finally, I can never resist anything deep fried so was super excited to see Kung Soup Paeng Tod (8,000) on the menu. These shrimp cakes taste exactly the same as the Thai style ones do, which I never fail to order. Crispy on the outside, and lovely minced shrimp on the inside with a sweet plum dipping sauce. Such a bargain for the price, some places charge double for the same thing.
Overall I loved Lao Piak, the food was hella tasty, I felt like I was back in South East Asia. The prices were incredible and I’m always happy to head over to Mangwon as there are so many great places in that neighbourhood. If you love Laotian food, or Vietnamese and Thai you should check it out, as Lao Piak seems like a combination of the two.
Lao Piak is located at 5 Huiujeong-ro 10-gil, Mangwon 1(il)-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Mangwon Station (line 6), and come out of exit 2. Come out of the station and take the road that is behind you to your right. Walk down this street until you have passed the outdoor and and indoor markets and take the 12th road on your left. Walk down this street and take the fourth road on your right. You will see Lao Piak just ahead on your right hand side. For more information you can call them on 02-322-7735 or check out their Instagram. They are open Tuesday-Sunday from 11am-9pm with a break from 3pm-5pm on weekdays.