Considering all the Thai and Vietnamese restaurants the city boasts, it's curious that a Laotian-focused spot hasn't come on the scene until now. On Monday Chef Marc Forgione and longtime kitchen partner Chef Soulayphet Schwader opened Khe-Yo, a new restaurant serving Laotian-inspired cuisine on Duane Street in Tribeca. Taking inspiration from its namesake, which means "green" in Laotian, the menu focuses on local, seasonal cuisine with an emphasis as strong on succulent meats as it is on raw herbs and vegetables.
Dishes are served family style, with diners encouraged to forgo utensils and use sticky rice as their food vehicle. Dunk the white jewels into Chef Schwader's jaews, or dipping sauces, like his signature Bang Bang Sauce, which accompanies every meal. Start with smokey, spicy Creekstone Farms Sesame Beef Jerky ($12) and Pork Belly & Shrimp Crispy Rolls ($9), composed with Bibb lettuce, perilla and sweet corn. Meaty entrees include Lemongrass Bekshire Spare Ribs ($23) with a side of smashed long bean and Whole Grilled Black Bass ($31) in a green mango and tamarind peanut sauce.
The intimate, teak-heavy interior has an industrial chic kind of vibe, with a large elephant mural echoing Laos' title as Land of a Million Elephants. The restaurant offers only dinner for now but plans to expand to lunch soon, serving a rotating menu of Bahn Mi sandwiches.
157 Duane Street, Tribeca, (212) 587-1089, kheyo.com. Open Monday - Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.