Mon-Sat, 5:30pm-11pm; Sun, closed
F, G at 15th St.-Prospect Park
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
I don’t know how many truly trendy restaurants there are in the tiny Southeast Asian country of Laos these days, but Marc Forgione, Nick Bradley, and their chef partner, Soulayphet Schwader, have done their best to create the facsimile of one right here in the big city. The brick walls of their bustling Tribeca establishment, Khe-Yo, are hung here and there with pots of ivy, and the lacquered, carefully distressed tables look like they’ve been lifted from one of the night markets around Bangkok or Louangphrabang. There are exotic, tongue-twisting dishes on the menu with names like ping pa (grilled black bass) and gaeng phet moo (pork-jowl curry), and if you belly up to the bar with the crowds of corporate revelers who frequent the restaurant in the evenings, you can addle yourself with hibiscus mimosas and glasses of mezcal touched with litchi juice and sprigs of mint.
Inevitably, many of these creations feel more like hybrid mash-ups than the real thing. Laotian food is known for its heat and its touches of French Colonial delicacy, but the mellifluously named gaeng phet moo tasted oddly denatured, and the spice accompanying my serving of prawns (where you would procure prawns in tiny, landlocked Laos, I have no idea) appeared to have been poured from a can. Schwader’s best dishes tend to be more subtle combinations, like balls of crunchy sticky rice sweetened with coconuts; the fresh salads (try the duck laap peht); and an amalgam of sautéed mushrooms (a special), which our waiter instructed us to wrap in strips of fresh kale. The lone house dessert is a random but soothing rice pudding. It’s dotted with chunks of green apple, which you can sprinkle, for an extra Tribeca kick, with crushed peanut brittle.
The signature bánh mì is now served at lunchtime. Lunch takeout window open Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.Recommended Dishes
Laap peht duck salad, crunchy coconut rice, sauteed-mushroom special, rice pudding.