Showed up on Memorial Day. Unfortunately they were closed for the holiday. Has anyone tried? How do you like it?
Went to Lao Tae in March 2019. Bear in mind we loved Daughter Thai the first year; do not like it any longer; and find Farmhouse Kitchen/Oakland glitzy and service borderline incompetent, food is sweeter and blander than DTK:
Roti with curry dip. Roti is sold in a dish of four (one roti, quartered) or eight (two rotis, quartered). Lao Tae’s version isn’t as flaky or delicate as its competitors, such as Teni East Kitchen/Oakland and Taste of Sing Ma/Pleasanton. The yellow curry dip is very tasty; it never seems to change from one SE Asian restaurant to another. It has a mildly spicy kick to it.
Lao Sausage (Sai Oua). This spicy lemongrass sausage is a given for our ordering. We love sausages and especially spicy ones. We first became familiar with this sausage at Vientian Café/Oakland. Lao Tae’s version was overcooked. The sausage was almost burnt on one side, making it rather dry. Lao Tae’s sausage might be worth getting again, assuming the kitchen can stop charring it.
Garlic Wings. “B+” version. The batter was thin, but the frying was just a minute overcooked. There’s an option for having this tossed with a couple of different stir-fry sauces, so the wings would work better for this purpose.
Corn Fritters. Alas, no one comes close to our Gold Standard by the original (NOT the current) E&O Trading Company/SF. Lao Tae’s version was like everyone else’s – uninteresting and starchy, with a doughy interior.
Grilled Pork. This won Spouse’s negative vote as the most tasteless pork dish he’s ever had. It was lean, tough, chewy slices of pork and except for coarsely ground black pepper, we couldn’t taste any seasoning. Not even the usual sweet tangy chile dip could save this one.
Yum Beef Salad. Slightly chewy slices of beef in a tangy lime-fish sauce mixture with too many green onions and some fresh cucumber slices and cilantro. A few halved grape tomatoes added bright color. There was a small heap of mixed greens on the side, but otherwise there wasn’t much ‘salad’ to this salad. We wouldn’t order this again; any number of SE Asian restaurants do this better than Lao Tae.
Nam Khao (Riceball Salad). I prefer the crispy Laotian version to the softer Thai version. Vientian Café is famed for this dish, but Lao Tae doesn’t equal it. The padaek is there, as is the scrambled egg and a moderate amount of crispy rice bits. But the crumbled fermented ground pork doesn’t seem to add much flavor, so it lacks complexity. I thought this was okay, not great; but Spouse rated it as “meh”.
Crab fried rice. There was a fair amount of [frozen] snow crab in this dish, and it was of decent quality if not up to Dungeness crab standards. We’ll give it a “B-” rating.
Fried Banana and Coconut Pineapple ice cream. Spouse loves fried bananas and I love coconut pineapple ice cream, so we ordered this to share. Surprisingly, I enjoyed half a banana as well. This wasn’t the usual bland yellow-skinned Dole banana – this had actual flavor. It tasted like one of the red banana varieties. The batter was very light, also, a nice change from the thick impenetrable armor-like batter coating that many restaurants use. The ice cream was the usual cheap brand, inferior to Häagen-Dazs.
Lao Tae was no better than average. The service was good, and the food came out fast. Parking can be difficult at times; note the lot next door has extended hours for paying the meter. The city lot up the hill is the cheapest, but it closes by 8 p.m.
You could do worse than Lao Tae…but you could also do better. The East Bay has some very good Laotian and Malaysian/Singaporean restaurants. We wouldn’t have any great objections to joining friends to eat here – but we wouldn’t automatically suggest it unless we had a specific reason for staying around Montclair Village.
Thanks, Jeane, for the detailed report. I was hoping that Lao Tae to be similar in quality to the Daughter Thai I went to in Montclair a couple of years ago. But it sounds like that’s not to be.
I think reading the menu there are some warning signs- there are quite a number of ‘mainstream’ and generic dishes for a full service restaurant. versus Daughter Thai have a specials menu full of dishes that are less common.
We ended up at another Laos’ restaurant- Noodles Pho Me- by chance. I completely forgot that it was Laos until I read the menu there.
How did you like Taste of Singma btw?