I had a late lunch at the SF branch of Champa Garden in Ingleside, after a failed expedition to Ming Kee for a roasted Cantonese meat plate - they only had chicken feet left! I need to get there earlier next time.
Champa Garden is a Lao / Thai restaurant that started in Oakland and opened this SF location back in 2013.
I just had a bowl of their Kaow Paik ($13), which is a Laotian chicken soup with chewy house made noodles made of rice and tapioca, the latter of which gives the noodles a pleasantly chewy consistency. Nice clear-ish broth that was garlicky and enhanced garlic-wise by a heaping of toasted garlic on top. Also some slices of white meat chicken. A very satisfying bowl of noodle soup, especially on a damp foggy afternoon. I doctored it up with a little chili oil and chili powder from the condiment platter.
I get that chicken soup when I’m sick. My go to is to just get the Champa Sampler - their fried rice ball salad is phenomenal, the lao sausages are very good - the spring rolls are just fine. And the lettuce, mint and cilantro are always really fresh.
Also love the Pouch of Knorr Tamarind Soup Base as an Addition to the Khao Piak Sen! (and the Peanuts, Chilis, Fried Shallots etc… )
Are there any other hidden gems on that menu? Aside from the rice ball salad, lao sausage and chicken soup, I’ve found other things I’ve ordered to be just OK.
I have only been to the Oakland local and I agree with your last comment.
I also found the Lao Style Larb to be good. I think we had the Quails a couple of times, I do have weakness for them although I do not know if I think they are “Gems”.
Everything else seemed like OK Thai Food to me. Not bad just not stand out.
Many years ago outside of DC there was a small Lao Restaurant that had really amazing Lao Dishes I have never had anything close since except in Laotian Homes.
I was wondering why that soup packet was there on the tray!
The Champa Sampler - crunchy, spicy sweet herbal savory