Last month, I went to School of Wok in order to learn how to cook Lao food with Saiphin Moore and her team. It was my first masterclass and I really enjoyed it.
We’ve cooked three dishes: one free-range Chicken Soup with Black Sesame Seeds, one mixed Mushrooms Curry with Ant’s Eggs and one Laab Pork Lao Style.
Wearing an apron and Saiphin in front of me with some pieces of meat, spices and lime (etc.), I was more than ready to cook!
This masterclass was organized in order to announce the launch of Lao Café, a permanent version of the successful pop-up they ran at their Gillingham Street site in 2015.
Born to a native Lao family in Thailand’s Phetchabun Province, Saiphin will draw on her upbringing to serve up a range of traditional Lao salads, curries and char-grilled dishes at the new restaurant. The menu will contain a mixture of dishes served at last year’s pop-up, alongside a host of new creations.
“Although my family migrated to Thailand from Laos, they did not abandon the traditional food and cooking methods,” says Saiphin. “These recipes have been in my family as long as I can remember. This restaurant will celebrate my love for Laotian cuisine with every dish reflecting a specific memory from growing up in the countryside – from cooking meat over a charcoal grill to mixing salads with a wooden pestle and mortar.”
Designed in collaboration with hospitality agency Rebel Hospitality, the new restaurant will be spread across two floors, and will accommodate 60 covers in total. The design scheme will combine subtle elements of authenticity (including furniture, fittings and artwork collected by Saiphin) with a clean, contemporary look befitting the café’s central London location.
The centrepiece of the interior will be a modern mural based on an old family photograph from Saiphin’s childhood, as interpreted by London-based graffiti artist Mr. Cenz. “This project is all about the menu,” says Rebel co-founder Edward Francis, “and the subtle nature of the scheme will ensure that the bright, bold, vibrant food is the centre of attention and star of the show.”
Set to open late 2016, Lao Café will occupy 60 Chandos Place, a stone’s throw from Covent Garden.