Not often do you walk into a restaurant and feel completely comfortable with the staff and aromas wafting out of the kitchen. But, Manuka’s Baan Latsamy has made its customers feel at home in the precinct for almost eight years.
The word Baan in Thai literally means ‘house’ and with such a hospitable owner, you can feel the love and passion put into the place by owner Latsamy herself. A great example of this is the presence of a single rose on every table that, like a hostess in her own home, was part of a bouquet sent to her the day before.
“The Manuka precinct has changed a lot since we started. It’s a lot bigger and attracts a lot more people. Because our food has such an amazing aroma and we are a very open restaurant, we attract a lot of local foot traffic,” says Latsamy.
Perusing the menu, it becomes clear that the dishes served at Baan Latsamy are a fusion of Lao and Thai cuisine, much like Latsamy and co-owner Phoukaothong’s culture and heritage combined.
“Our menu is a mixture of family recipes and traditional flavours that we put together to create new dishes and re-create some of our childhood favourites,” says Latsamy.
Latsamy points to the Som Tum (Paw Paw Salad) and reminisces, “just like you guys eat chips we snack on Som Tum!”
Excited to try the snack, I took a mouthful of the delicate-looking dish of green shredded paw paw and boy did it pack a punch! Don’t be fooled, this is a fiery fruit that must be tackled with caution. The spicy sauce combines traditional Lao flavours of garlic, fish sauce and a bunch of chillies, that while tasty should be approached graciously.
Latsamy pairs this snack with the Chilli Fish and a side sticky rice for the full flavour combination. The Chilli Fish combines a deep fried whole baby snapper with a hot tamarind sauce that glistens on the plate.
The sauce highlights the sweet elements of the chilli rather than the heat, which is indeed a blessing when you combine it with the Som Tum in a mouth full. A traditional side of sticky rice sops up the juice to ensure you savour every last drop of the tamarind sauce and the spicy Som Tum dressing.
Exhibiting the flavours of Thai cuisine is the Spicy and Crispy Pork Belly. Each slice of pork crackles with bubbles with crispy goodness and leaves a pinch spice on the tongue to keep you wanting more. This dish is complete with field mushrooms as well as chives, basil, garlic, coriander, chilli and lettuce which add an element of freshness to the dish.
As we looked out into the summer heat, Latsamy knew that a salad was in order to finish our meal. Cooked in a light, coconut-rich satay sauce was the Warm Salad with King Prawns and Chicken. This is definitely a stand-out dish for the warmer months, with a generous mix of lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, capsicum, a squeeze of lime and a sprinkling of crushed peanuts for a pleasant contrast of flavour and texture.
From the moment you walk into Baan Latsamy, you are a part of the family. From the friendly staff to the pride and passion that the owners put into every dish that comes out of the kitchen, Baan Latsamy is a must-try in the Manuka precinct.