Restaurant: Thip Thip – Lao Issan Snack Bar
Restaurant type: Laotian, South-East Asian, street food
Prices: $7-$9 entrées, $9-$15 mains
Date: Tuesday November 26th 2019
Table of: 2
My favorite dish: Laab (Lao beef meat salad)
Last month, I had the pleasure of trying Thip Thip – Lao Issan Snack Bar as their guest! Thip Thip is an all-new Laotian snack bar – food truck style – located inside the brand new LE CENTRAL food hall in the heart of le Quartier des Spectacles (downtown). Thip Thip offers a small but concise menu (as do food trucks) of popular Laotian dishes with a Montreal twist to them; they call it “same same, but MTL different” (love it – if you know, you know). They’re also licensed and thus sell beer and wine, which is always nice.
Thip Thip manager JC explained to us that what really differentiates Laotian cuisine from its Thai and Vietnamese counterparts is the abundant use of fresh and fragrant herbs (which I love, I’m all for fresh herbs). To fully experience Thip Thip, JC suggested to us their three most popular dishes: Tam mak hoong (Lao spicy papaya salad), Khua mee (sautéed Lao noodles) and Laab (Lao meat salad – we had the raw beef one). JC also gave us three spice levels to choose from: Saguenay (lmao), Latino and Lao – we opted for Latino and it was just perfect.
My favorite dish was the Lao meat salad with raw beef, mint, basil leaves, garlic, fried shallots, pickled radish and Lao funk. The meat was super tender and very flavourful, which I loved. You definitely need to like fish sauce, because copious amounts of it are used in a lot of their dishes. There’s a really nice balance that exists between the sweetness of sugar, saltiness of fish sauce and acidity of lime juice; pair that with an abundance of fresh herbs and you’ve got yourself a great dish bursting full of flavours. The only thing I would say, is that I would have preferred smaller cubes of beef, because although the beef was tender, it was quite a mouthful to chew on.
Alex on the other end adored the sautéed Lao noodles with fried tofu, bean sprouts and fresh herbs; he said he could eat this dish every week. Comparable to a pad Thai, I also enjoyed this dish, but prefer the sweeter and saucier Thai counterpart. I loved that the Lao noodles were full of herbs, but I found the noodles too dry for my personal liking. We also tried the Lao spicy papaya salad, which to me, was exactly the same as the Thai one lol (perhaps with just a heavier hand on the fish sauce). I’m also just not a huge fan of papaya salad in general and haven’t eaten very many in my life, so I didn’t have many comparison points. With that said, I do recall watching (and eating) Chef Nguyen from Maison Phayathai make a traditional papaya salad and I would say the Lao version has less vegetables in it (no green beans, no tomatoes).
I accompanied my meal with a nice glass of white Austrian wine which was very good and Alex went with a Sapporo (I do wish they had Laotian beer though, or at least, Thai beer).
We enjoyed a very good meal at Thip Thip and I would definitely go back for that raw beef salad and to try one of their soups. A lot of the dishes can also be made vegetarian and for some dishes, you can choose to add protein and what kind. Laotian cuisine is very underrated in Montreal and definitely deserves to be discovered! Have you ever had Laotian food?
*This restaurant post does not contain my usual restaurant review criteria of restaurants, as this is a sponsored post where I was invited to the restaurant as a guest.
*All photos and comments are mine