Here’s a good sign. A restaurant called Taurus Ox specializing in Laotian cuisine will open on Capitol Hill in early December. The new spot — in the small space formerly occupied by the dearly departed Little Uncle — plans to feature classic dishes from the region, such as Lao pork sausage, thom khem (a salty stew), and soop pak (steamed vegetable salad), with a rustic presentation.
There will also be some Pacific Northwest influences, using produce from local farms, and a whole animal approach reflected on the menu. On the drinks side, the place will be alcohol free for a few months, while the liquor license is sorted out. “In the meantime, we will have our house sodas on tap, as well as our takes on iced coffee and iced tea,” co-owner Sydney Clark tells Eater Seattle.
Three chefs with a strong Seattle restaurant pedigree are behind the new venture: Clark (former chef de cuisine at Poppy), Khampaeng Panyathong (who once worked at Herbfarm and originally hails from Laos), and Jenessa Sneva (from Lucinda Grain Bar, and Salare). As preparations ramp up, the trio have begun posting previews on Instagram of what’s to come, including khao ji sandwiches, featuring sour pork, ham, liver paté, and naturally pickled vegetables.
Taurus Ox should be a welcome addition in a city where Laotian food tends to be underrepresented. Dishes from the region most often appear in places that mix in Thai offerings, such as Viengthong, Vientiane Asian Grocery, and Song Phang Kong — there’s also a Laotian conveyor belt hot pot restaurant in Bellevue called Blazing Bowl. But restaurants that showcase the cuisine exclusively are a relative rarity. Capitol Hill did have a similarly focused restaurant, Lao Bao, that opened in Broadway Alley early last year, but it didn’t last long. The rising Taurus Ox chefs hope to have some better luck.