Before the pandemic hit, chef Donny Sirisavath had plans for a new restaurant. Now, he’s adapted to the current situation and is testing out his new project Khao Len inside his wildly popular East Dallas eatery Khao Noodle Shop.
Called Khao Len, the new project will be a pop-up on weekends at the Laotian favorite, taking place every other Sunday. According to Sirisavath, the plan was originally to open Khao Len as a standalone eatery, but the team behind the project was in the process of scoping out locations when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived.
“We had two potential locations planned for it, but then COVID hit and it’s been scrapped,” he says. “Once things have settled down and gone somewhat back to normal, we’ll go back to look at locations again.” Joining Sirisavath in the project is Tex Sirisawat, a friend of the chef’s who grew up in chicken and rice restaurants.
For now, though, he’s setting his mind to creating truly “playful” food in keeping with the meaning of the restaurant’s name. “The food will be ambitious and remind us of our childhoods,” Sirisavath says. “We’ll try not to take it seriously, and have fewer boundaries. The food’s still going to be seriously good, but the inspiration is more fun and playful.”
As such, the menu for Khao Len will feature a burger inspired by the nostalgia of school cafeteria cheeseburgers and Asian flavors. There will also be tacos served on freshly made roti, and specials like lamb karaage, and a Lao barbecue platter that’s loaded down with Khao’s killer sausage, papaya-mango salad, grilled veggies, and pork ribs from Chubby Dog Farm.
Sirisavath has been quietly building hype for Khao Len on social media, and people are already responding. “We love the excitement,” he says. “We love that people wait for us to drop a menu. That’s the whole idea of Khao Len — something fun, exciting, and cool.”
Khao Len will be open for takeout and outdoor dining service every other Sunday, starting in the second week of September. Follow the restaurant on Instagram for details on how to order.