Chef and owner Seng Luangrath renamed the Falls Church restaurant Padaek.
This story appears in our weekly Food newsletter. Sign up here.
When Bangkok Golden reopened yesterday after a week-long summer vacation, it wasn’t Bangkok Golden anymore.
The change actually took place late last month, when chef and owner Seng Luangrath renamed it as Padaek.
“I was scared to do anything new,” Luangrath says in reference to originally employing the Bangkok Golden moniker. She wanted to serve Lao dishes but wasn’t sure how customers would respond to an unfamiliar cuisine and so she framed the restaurant around Thai food. But she slipped some Lao items on the menu, too.
Eventually, Bangkok Golden became known for its secret, and then not-so-secret, Lao menu, which eventually overshadowed the Thai food. “Guests call the restaurant from the parking lot to make sure it’s the right place,” Luangrath says of the confusion of using Thailand’s capital city as its name.
Luangrath choose Padaek, an unfiltered, fermented fish sauce, as the name of the restaurant because of its use in both countries’ cuisines, though it is most known as a Lao staple.
Back with a fresh coat of paint and a name change, the restaurant will still serve much of the same menu, besides a few tweaks, including holding on to Thai items.
The name is more of a personal victory for Luangrath, who is also the founder of Lao Food Movement, and for finally embracing Lao food as its own entity: “It’s time for us to be proud of who we are.”