Finding a good restaurant open on Sunday night in Paris is tough (certainly as a visitor, anyway). Finding a good restaurant open on Easter Sunday night – well, that’s the sort of epic challenge I enjoy. Cue Lao Lane Xang 2, a Laotian/Thai/Vietnamese resto in Paris’s Chinatown. It’s open on Sundays and came highly recommended by John Talbott and David Lebovitz.
Lao Lane Xang stands out from the dozens of other mostly Vietnamese restaurants in the neighborhood because its decor is relatively upscale, and it’s big, taking up two floors of a wide space.
The toasted rice salad (pictured above) had gotten rave reviews in various writeups, so Jon and I gave it a try. It’s spicy, crunchy and has bits of meat and lime in there. Good, but it’s probably more appealing in summertime, rather than on a cold, rainy evening.
Vietnamese ravioli were good, though it looked and tasted exactly like the version I liked at the divier (and cheaper) Pho 14 up the street. The ravioli “shell” is translucent, gooey rice flour, and the filling is ground pork and shitake mushrooms. Jon finds the filling dry, but I like the way its texture contrasts with that of the soft rice flour shell. And I love how it all absorbs the flavor of the super-good nuoc cham.
Lao pancakes were a first for me. They look like ravioli, are made of rice flour, and had a hint of something sweet to them. Eh.
The best part of my meal was a lacquered duck breast in a chilli-nuoc cham sauce, served on a generous bed of sautéed gai lan and pak choi. The duck skin was crispy and the duck meat was rich-smooth-juicy. The Thai influence was there in the chilis and fried basil, and for 9 euros, this dish was a steal.
Service was fast and helpful (and as obvious as this sounds, don’t expect anyone there to speak english). Definitely go if you’re stuck for a Sunday meal option or if you want a break from all that bistro brasserie fare.
Our total for three starters, two mains, two sticky rice portions and three beers: 68 euros.