Nothing is hotter than Asian food at the moment, as high-minded, style-conscious Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, and Burmese restaurants have all crashed the dining scene in recent years. But when was the last time you ate koi or orm orkhao soi? If the names of those dishes sound unfamiliar, don’t worry. Laotian cooking remains an obscurity for most Westerners, and even the owners of this small, welcoming strip-mall restaurant have hedged their bets by offering two menus (one Thai, one Laotian—but don’t even look at the former) and a buffet. If that makes Bangkok Golden something of a curiosity, it’s not mere novelty that garners it a spot on this list; it’s the popping intensity of much of chef Seng Luangrath’s cooking. Few restaurants offer this much excitement, this much color, and this much variety on the plate, and nearly all cost three times as much.
Open: Daily for lunch and dinner.
Don’t Miss: Crispy rice salad; pork orm, a dill-scented stew; Laotian sausage; moo ping, barbecue pork; pork curry with coconut milk; grilled pork neck; sour tilapia soup; pickled pork belly.