A highly deserving Dallas restaurant continues its winning streak with a big nod from a very important food magazine: Khao Noodle Shop, the family-run Laotian restaurant in East Dallas, earned the No. 2 spot on the just-released list of 10 Best New Restaurants of 2019 by Bon Appetit.
Khao Noodle Shop has accumulated a slew of awards, most recently its inclusion on another list by Bon Appetit, proclaiming Dallas to be the Restaurant City of 2019. It seems safe to say that Bon Appetit really likes Dallas, and it really, really likes Khao Noodle Shop.
The No. 1 Best New Restaurant, and therefore the only one to beat Khao, is Konbi in Los Angeles, a 10-seat spot from two alums of David Chang’s Momofuku in New York. This new list seems to favor small spots that are highly personal statements.
Written by author Julia Kramer, the blurb on Khao applauds its small menu and cheap prices. It also uses the word "slurp." Shudder.
"There are approximately 12 dishes on the menu at Khao Noodle Shop, each only a few bites or spoonfuls, and none costs more than $8," she says. "So in my attempt to understand what exactly the chef and owner Donny Sirisavath was trying to do, it was easiest just to order them all."
"After one slurp of painstakingly handmade noodles in a savory, complex pork blood broth, the restaurant's roots came through clearly: This is the cooking of Laos, the country the chef’s mother fled after its civil war before resettling in Texas in 1977. Sirisavath, who was born in Amarillo, grew up helping his mom in the kitchen of her Thai restaurant, learning how to make pad kee mao and wok-fried rice. Years later, after his mom died, he began hosting Lao pop-ups as a side project (he was a Hewlett-Packard engineer by day), then left his job to open Khao Noodle."
"Now, in a strip mall in East Dallas — an area once home to many Southeast Asian refugees in the late ’70s and early ’80s — Sirisavath serves a menu inspired not by books or classes or other restaurants but by his own singular vision, rooted in family and place."
This is not the first time the magazine called the center a "strip mall." Is it really a strip mall?
Kramer also likes the "laid-back vibe" with stools spray-painted by friends and the tight-knit staff.
Others newbies on the list include Longoven, an "unlikely" fine-dining restaurant in Richmond, Virginia; Ochre Bakery in Detroit; the Elysian Bar in New Orleans; Kopitiam, a Malaysian coffee shop in New York; Taylor in Nashville; Le Comptoir du Vin in Baltimore; Matt's BBQ Tacos in Portland, Oregon; and The Wolf's Tailor in Denver.
Regarding the inclusion of Oregon restaurant Matt's BBQ Tacos, Kramer says, "There are two things in this package that are going to upset a lot of people in Texas. One: naming Dallas our restaurant city of the year, which I have a feeling a lot of people in Houston and Austin are, uh, not gonna like. Two: what I’m about to say about a breakfast-taco joint … that’s also a barbecue joint … that’s in the most un-Texas location imaginable — Portland, Oregon. Please don’t hate me."