Bida Manda Laotian Restaurant and Bar

Bida Manda Laotian Restaurant and Bar
222 S Blount St., Raleigh • (919) 829-9999 •
Average Lunch entrée $8-$10

Owners Vansana and Vanvisa Nolintha didn’t plan on opening a restaurant, but now feel it’s the perfect vehicle to tell their story. The young brother-sister pair emigrated from Laos in their early adolescence and turned to cooking to remind them of home.

Their restaurant, Bida Manda, opened its doors in Moore Square last September with a posh contemporary-meets-natural vibe that “evokes the feeling of Laos,” said Vansana, who goes by Van. The restaurant’s name means father and mother and honors the Nolinthas’ parents, who are still in Laos.

“These are the dishes we grew up eating,” said Van. “Home-cooked food still tastes like home-cooked food.”

The bold flavors of palm sugar, fish sauce and lime juice infuse all Laotian cuisine, which is nuanced by French culinary influences, a product of French colonization, and lots of fresh herbs.

To execute their culinary concepts, the Nolinthas discovered an expertly-trained, native Laotian chef living in Raleigh — through a Craigslist ad.

“It’s easy when things are meant to be,” said Van.

The Green Papaya Salad, a signature dish at Bida Manda, is common fare in Laos.

Combining julienned papaya, tomato, peanuts and a choice of a grilled protein with Thai chili lime sauce, the salad is fresh and flavorful with a good kick.

“You’ll find it on every street corner of Laos,” said Van.

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