E-San Rod-Sap, Lao food in Anaheim

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Look for this market as the restaurant has no signs.

This is truly a hidden gem in Orange County. Yes they have “basic Thai” dishes but really you should come here for Laotian food. If you study the menu you will see some Laotian dishes but you should also make a visit to the counter where you will find more Laotian dishes. 2 items with rice is $6. Cheaper and tastier than fast food combo meal!

So I had:
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Lao Chicken Noodle Soup. House made noodles that are Udon like but less cylinder shape. Slightly thick broth with fried shallots , cilantro, and garlic throughout. Was encouraged to use a little tableside chile oil, use the darker one. Comforting and tasty.

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Papaya Salad, Lao style. Couldn’t be more different than Thai style, very funky and fermented. I am a wuss with this. Be sure to get some sticky rice. The padek/fermented fish sauce defeated me!

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This soup was from the table! Bamboo Soup. Lots of bamboo, some green veg I can’t identify (look at that murky green color!), pumpkin, herbs/spices, and padek. You can taste a little of the funk but it is balanced out by sour, and savory notes. This is a instant favorite for me. This is a must order. Yes you can get a bowl of this, another dish, and rice for $6.

Will definitely be back to explore more of the dishes. Had great service from one of the workers here. As often with these mom-n-pop places you express interest in the food and culture you get benefits ~cough~ freebies~future recommendations~cough

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Yes! I remember trying (and liking!) this place, maybe about 9-12 months ago? I also had the papaya salad, and I quite liked it despite its clearing out my sinuses. I’ll have to try the bamboo soup; I don’t remember what else I had at the moment…

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Pure Chowhounding lives on… Excellent work.

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Found my pictures, but not sure I remember what I ate other than the papaya salad:

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Might have been the chicken soup with the chili already added?

Looks great. It’s also in the same plaza as the best Thai massage in the OC - Araya Thai Massage.

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Had finally remembered to take some pics at our last meal but they came out so bad I was waiting for our next trip to post. Glad to see someone else not dropping the ball!

So far our favorites have been the BBQ Pork on a stick, salted crab papaya salad, duck noodle soup, boat noodles (my son’s fave but best when the cut the tripe thinly),house ribs and Lao Sausage.

The crispy rice tossed salad was OK, and my wife likes the pad thai but it is not one of her favorites. The Chinese sausage fried rice was good if unexciting.

Did not really love the panang curry, larb or nam tok.

I enjoyed the boat noodles there but had not tried them anywhere else - if someone else has an opinion, how does their version stack up?

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This place was good, but for my favorite dishes (lao sausage, nam khao todd, papaya salad) I like Vientiane better

There’s a cool market next to this one though. And I’ve never had those soups…

I read the review in the OC Weekly and have been meaning to give it a go.

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Nam Khao Tod. This was pretty good.

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Was craving the holy trinity of lemongrass, kaffir lime, and galangal. The Tom Yum Goong hit the spot here.

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Some Banana Sticky Rice came out fresh so of course I had to get some!

Imma try and hit up Thai Town next Sunday for New Years

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Checked in recently here, still delicious!

The restaurant connected to the Thai Laos Market in Anaheim is the type of place that will be circulated as hidden or some sort of secret, but the name is right there in the front window.

With its own door to the parking lot, but also connected to the market inside is E-san Rod-Sap, named for the food it focuses on from the province of E-san in northeast Thailand. Often compared to Lao food, E-san food is Lao food and Lao food is E-san food in many cases. The region after all has more Lao people than Laos itself, a sparsely populated country.

No matter which method of entry you choose, you will arrive in front of the scene above. The smells from the steam table will hit your nose as the many handwritten options all compete for your attention. Pick up a paper menu and the overwhelming feeling deepens. Maybe you should sit down for a bit.

While there are many delicious options for both Thai and Lao dishes available à la carte, it is that steam table that should take your focus on a weekday lunch. The “lunch/dinner combo express” is available all day and includes jasmine rice and either two options for $6.50 or three for $7.50. Extra items on top of this are only $2.

This way of eating, or type of establishment is often referred to as khao rad kang, literally meaning “curry over rice” but signifying here that you get rice as well as some other choices. The plate above would never be found in Thailand because it includes dishes from Laos and southern Thailand that would not be cooked by the same folks. But they do it all here, and so far to pretty good effect.

The green Lao bamboo vegetable soup (above left) somehow tastes like Laos and brings back vivid memories of the country. It is quite simple, but the way its smells hit your nose is just perfect. One bowl was not enough and a refill was required. Despite the statement above about similarities between E-san food, this is one of the very unique Lao dishes that is kept within its own borders and differentiates itself.

Always available in these type of places serving many spicy options is some type of pla tod (above front), fried fish chosen to mellow out the other flavors and provide some relief. Usually fish this small are first sun dried and then fried during preparation, making them extra crispy and good.

The extra dish added to the three was another to help mellow any potential heat overdoses. Moo dad deaw (above), is pork that has also been sundried before frying. The marinade of soy sauce and palm sugar makes it sweet as well for extra calming potential between bites of curry.

The yellow curry bamboo would have never been possible to exist with the Lao soup in any khao rad kang in Thailand, but they seem meant for each other and offer competing flavor profiles. The version of the southern Thai favorite here is certainly not as spicy as you can find it on occasion, but it is very good.

After adding one dish and asking for a refill of the Lao bamboo vegetable soup, the total bill came to $11.50. Throw a five in the tip jar and you still have a very economical lunch hack for two people to split. The Thai person present at this particular meal for two kept making really nice faces and saying it made her feel like home. It might be hard to beat this type of approval.

The next door market is good for a wander, and filling up your pantry if you cook Thai and/or Lao foods at home. Check out their collection of bamboo sticky rice containers, from single serving to giant vats the size of your torso. It is the best selection outside of a specialized shop back in Thailand or Laos.

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