Raleigh’s Asian restaurants really surprised us, especially Brewery Bhavana and Bida Manda. Both restaurants are owned by brother-and-sister duo and first-generation immigrants Vansana and Vanvisa Nolintha, and they are located next door to each other. Bida Manda is first restaurant from the Nolintha family; Brewery Bhavana was opened in 2017.
We stopped in for lunch at Bida Manda, and while we’re very familiar with Burmese cuisine, this was our first visit to a Laotian restaurant. We started with a bottle of Beerlao, a Laotian brewery, and ordered a few dishes to sample.
We were especially interested in the wings, mostly due to the sauces. Each order of wings comes with your choice of Panang Curry Sauce, Hot Sweet Chili Sauce, and Lao Spicy Roasted Habañero and Peanut Sauce. Our server cautioned us that the Lao Spicy Roasted Habañero and Peanut Sauce was one of the spiciest things he’d ever tasted, and kindly offered to bring us all three. Our server was correct; the Habañero sauce was profoundly spicy, yet we couldn’t help but keep going back for more.
We also tried the Luang Prabang Lemongrass sausage, which might be our favorite dish we tasted. This house-made pork sausage with fresh herbs, jasmine rice, ground pork belly, and pickled ginger was both rich and refreshing.
For entrees, we ordered the Crispy Pork Belly soup and the Green Papaya salad, Our server informed us that the Crispy Pork Belly soup was one of the most popular dishes on the menu, and the Green Papaya salad was not to be missed, so we couldn’t choose between the two. Both were amazing. The Crispy Pork Belly soup is based on a coconut curry broth, and the Green Papaya salad comes with a side of sticky rice and choice of toppings.
Bida Manda serves some of the best Asian food we’ve had, and if you’re visiting Raleigh, this casual, family-friendly restaurant is not to be missed. If you’re interested in Laotian cuisine, check out this book, this book, or this book.
Thank you to Alaska Airlines for sponsoring this post.