2102 8th Avenue, Oakland, CA
Photos courtesy of Yelp.com
Champa Garden is well-known for its nearly authentic Lao food with a popular following in the Bay Area. Laotian cuisine, often featured in dual Lao-Thai restaurants, is the dominant chord at C. G., an establishment that bills itself as a Lao, Thai, Lue (a minority ethnic group in SE Asia), and Vietnamese restaurant. As such, the menu may bewilder the diner. We will eat largely Lao dishes. Several dishes can be ordered Lao or Thai style, but their specialty is Lao.
Lao food is known for its use of sticky rice, galangal root, lemongrass, mint, dill, blood cubes, fish sauce, and shrimp paste. Sticky rice is so important to Lao national identity that the language reflects this in the phrase "Luk Khao Niaow", which can be translated as, "children of sticky rice," to describe the Laotian people. Laotians traditionally eat with their hands, and you can too!
Dinner will be family-style, with items chosen from the following list: Fried rice ball salad (Nam Kao), Lao papaya salad, Lao Larp, Lao sausage (Saigock), Penang cat fish, Drunken noodle with pork (Pad Kea Moa), Lue Noodle Soup (Kaow Soy), Mu Ping Ma Nao, Lao noodle soup (Kaow Paik), Angel wings (stuffed chicken legs), daily specials.
There are no reservations so I will arrive early and wait for a table.
The more people the merrier!
For those who enjoy beer, Champa carries Beerlao, named "Asia's best local beer" by Time magazine. It's made with polished rice in addition to the usual malted barley, hops, yeast, and water, giving it a distinctive light and crisp flavor.
Yelp gave 4/5 stars, and Zagat a 23/30.
Comparable restaurants include: Vientian Cafe, Souk Savanh (featured on Check Please Bay Area), Sticky Rice Cafe, Chai Thai Noodles, and the recently closed Green Papaya Deli.