Taurus Ox may be new to Capitol Hill, but it’s an instant hit. The Laotian kitchen introduced the neighborhood to new flavors when it took over the space that Little Uncle used to occupy. Whether you’re in the mood for rich pork belly broth or fresh papaya salad, Taurus Ox has you covered.
Laotian cuisine has been underrepresented in the PNW, something owner Khampaeng Panyathong chalks up to a mix of the relatively new migration of Lao people to the area, the politics of the restaurant industry, and the lack of education surrounding the cuisine. Panyathong, who has opened several restaurants in Seattle and has worked as a chef for years, didn’t consider opening a Laotian restaurant until recently.
“It wasn’t until a couple of years ago when I started thinking, ‘Hey, there’s a lot of technique and talent for my own culture’s cuisine, and there’s also not a lot of exposure,’” says Panyathong.
But that lack of exposure hasn’t stopped chef-owners Panyathong, Jenessa Sneva, and Sydney Clark from experiencing a successful first few months of business. And although it may be unfamiliar to some, the food speaks for itself.
Pair the homemade sausage (with hints of lime leaf, garlic, lemongrass, and chili) with jaew, a spicy, rich condiment that stands on its own. Or opt for the Lao burger, which has a beef and pork patty, two kinds of jaew, provolone, taro stem, pickled onions, pork jowl bacon, and cilantro.
No matter what you order, it’s important to be open to trying something new. Panyathong finds himself offering disclaimers to customers who have less experience with Laotian food.
“This is a new, underrepresented cuisine,” says Panyathong. “Just bring an open mind and that’s it.”
But chances are Taurus Ox will check all your boxes, and anyone with dietary restrictions can likely be accommodated. Keep an eye out for alcohol additions and seasonal menu changes. Oh and be sure to thank whoever takes your order - it’s likely one of the owners, who make up most of the staff!