Editor's note: TheaterJones has a new bi-weekly feature, Dinner and a Show, in which we will pair a performing arts event in North Texas with a nearby restaurant, so you can make a night of your arts going. The restaurant reviews are written by Kelly Kirkendoll, a longtime North Texas public relations guru and food blogger who has the Kitchen Gone Rogue blog, where she writes about the local dining scene and shares recipes and other tips. The "show" part of this feature will be written by a TheaterJones arts writer. Look for this column every other Thursday.
From the Table: A Celebration of Food
Presented by Cry Havoc Theater Company
Directed by Kelsey Leigh Ervi
South Dallas Cultural Center, 3400 S. Fitzhugh Ave., Dallas (just south of Fair Park)
For tickets, click here
Entering its fifth year, Cry Havoc Theater Company has become one of the area's can't-miss groups. Using high schoolers from North Texas schools to research, interview people and write and devise the plays based on those interviews, there has not been a wrong step yet, from the harrowing Shots Fired (about the Dallas police shootings) to last year's exquisite Babel, about gun violence, the shows are both entertaining and thought-provoking.
In From the Table: A Celebration of Food, the company explores one of the major things all humans have in common: food. The group attempts to explore who we are by looking at the history of humankind and the food that sustains it.
Side note: Although we're focusing on a nearby restaurant for this column, Cry Havoc is having a food event, called Brunch and a Show, on Sunday, Jan. 13 at 12:30, in which the teens of Cafe Momentum in downtown Dallas will prepare and serve your food and the teens in the Cry Havoc show will perform excerpts. More information on that can be found here.
Khao Noodle Shop
Address: 4812 Bryan St. in Dallas
Hours: Sun 10am-6pm; closed Monday; Tues-Thurs 11am – 3pm & 5-9pm; Friday 11am – 3pm & 5-10pm; Saturday 12noon – 10pm
Parking: Parking lot in front of restaurant
Distance from the show venue: a 10 minute-drive from the South Dallas Cultural Center
If you’re going to see a play that celebrates food and its associated stories, it’s probably best not to arrive hungry. We also think it’s best to pair this kind of show with a restaurant that embraces a similar spirit.
Khao Noodle Shop, a small, cozy new restaurant in East Dallas, serves food inspired by the chef/owner’s childhood memories of his mom’s Laotian home-cooking and his travels throughout Southeast Asia. With small bowls and shareable bites, the menu brings street food inside four walls and encourages diners to embark on a food adventure as they gather with friends and/or family.
I stopped in shortly after Khao opened, dragging my mom along, who was in town for the holidays. Unlike me, she isn’t an adventurous eater, and Khao Noodle Shop was far outside her culinary comfort zone. Because the portions for each menu option were small, we were able to try much of the menu without committing to a single large entrée.
If you’re new to Laotian food, don’t let that stop or intimidate you. We found the staff (and the menu approach) friendly and welcoming to both newbies and those more familiar with the cuisine.
First, we tried four of the five noodle bowls: Chef Donny’s signature Boat Noodles, Khao Poon, Khao Soi and Mee Katee. Each bowl was $5, and although the portions were not large, the noodle bowls were packed with flavor, well-developed broths and an attention to detail.
First, we tried Chef Donny’s signature Boat Noodles. Made with a 10-hour pork broth, a pork meatball, rice noodles and more, this was my mom’s favorite dish and one of my favorites as well.
Next, we had the Khao Poon, which is made with vermicelli, beef broth, vegetables, herbs and topped with shredded red cabbage. Another one of my mom’s favorites, it was surprisingly spicy (to her, not me) at the very end.
The Khao Soi wet bowl (which you can order wet or dry) is filled with rice noodles, fermented pork, small mushrooms, vegetables and herbs. Although my mom never made anything like it when I was growing up, the flavor and comfort of the Khao Soi was reminiscent of my mom’s home-cooked meals (although I couldn’t pinpoint a particular one).
Finally, we tried the Mee Katee bowl, which is made with rice noodles, coconut curry, peanuts, eggs, herbs and shredded red cabbage. I am a sucker for anything coconut curry, so while I enjoyed all the noodle bowls we devoured, the Mee Katee was my favorite.
The menu also includes eight options for shareable bites, including shrimp, triple chicharrones, Lao sausage, beef skewers, pickled greens, sakoo (handmade tapioca dumplings) and more. Four sides are also available, including a sticky rice I have my eyes on for my next visit. The drink menu is short (water and soda) because it’s BYOB at Khao!
We ordered two of the shareable bites – the beef skewers and the cured, fried shrimp bites. Both arrived beautifully plated and with equal attention to detail. The beef bites, our favorite, included two skewers of tender beef seasoned with garlic and lemongrass.
Chef Donny stopped by our table, chatted with us for a while and informed us that they will be adding seasonal and other items to the menu over time.
“Khao” has many meanings, all associated with food and coming together to eat, which is exactly what Chef Donny hopes the shop will become: “a home for friends and family to come together to enjoy great Laotian food.” I think he’s well on his way to making that happen.
» View more pictures from Khao Noodle Shop by clicking the slideshow icon in the floating menu at the lower left of your screen
» You can also read Kelly's review of Khao Noodle Shop on her blog, Kitchen Gone Rogue, which has additional photos.