Best Laotian - 2013
We've spent considerable time searching for a Laotian restaurant in the five boroughs only to come up short, so it's hard to overstate our glee when it comes to Soulayphet "Phet" Schwader's determination to bring this cuisine to Tribeca in a big way. Khe-Yo's dishes run the gamut from fairly traditional (see the green papaya salad and sticky rice plus accoutrements) to more interpretive, but they're all light, fresh, and steeped in the big tart, spicy flavors of his home country. Possibly the best example of that is the Jurgielewicz duck salad, a loose riff on chopped meat laap salads that are ubiquitous in Southeast Asia. Crisp-skinned hunks of juicy, succulent bird bed down with bitter greens, lemongrass, and the subtle peppery note of Vietnamese cilantro. A finishing coating of acidic, savory vinaigrette gives each bite a fresh finish.