Condé Nast Traveller called Dallas a “bona fide Laotian food destination” in a recent list of “The food worth traveling for in every state.”
Here’s what writer Dan. Q. Dao says:
By the end of the war in neighboring Vietnam, Laos was the most bombed country in history. In the following decades, thousands of Laotian refugees would settle in Texas, opening wats (temples), grocery stores, and dozens of strip-mall Laotian restaurants primarily in the Dallas area. Four decades later, Dallas is a bona fide Laotian food destination — and there’s no doubt that Lao food plays a big role in its current status as a food city after sitting in the shadow of Houston and Austin for years.
The national magazine points to Sapp Sapp in downtown Irving and Khao Noodle Shop in East Dallas as prime examples.
But Oak Cliff also is home to a small Lao population and at least one of those strip-mall restaurants, Ly Food Market.
The grocery and restaurant are owned by Kam Southammavong and his wife; their adult sons often work there. Southammavong is a jeweler by trade and also runs his fine jewelry-making business out of the grocery.
Here’s what we wrote about him in 2015:
Kam Southammavong escaped communist Laos in 1984 and resettled in Wichita, Kan., where he apprenticed under a jeweler and learned the trade. Jewelry making is Southammavong’s passion. He produces custom jewelry for many clients in California, where he lived for 21 years. He could do the work from home, but instead he works inside a cage at Somphou Market, the business he owns with his wife, Ly.
The restaurant, in a no-frills space at the back of the grocery, serves Thai and Lao food, and Southammavong says they try to appeal to their Lao customers as well as Latinos who make up the majority of the population near the grocery.
“We cook for Mexicans and Americans,” he said in 2015. “Authentic Thai is too sour and spicy for them.”
Ly Food Market also is available on various delivery apps.