WASILLA — The Mat-Su Valley now has an all-Laotian restaurant, the first of its kind in the area. Cafe Khao Neow is officially open for business.

Paylin Duangpaseuth and her partner Phongsay Luangsaysana opened their doors to the public on Oct. 14. Luangsaysana was happy to report the first went very well.

“Not super busy, but nice and steady for sure,” Luangsaysana said.

Cafe Khao Neow translates to “Cafe Sticky Rice,” which harkens to the staple of a Laotian meal — sticky rice.

During meals, most people in Laos grab a handful of rice from a bamboo wicker rice box with their bare hands, roll it up into a ball, and dunk it into the dipping sauces on the table.

“Sticky rice will always be there,” Luangsaysana said with a laugh.

Luangsaysana works as the store manager up front while Duangpaseuth works as the owner and chef back in the kitchen. Luangsaysana said they’re both Laotian and they both wanted to share the comfort foods they grew up eating.

“We’re really excited to bring Laos’s food to the Valley,” Luangsaysana said.

Laos is located in Southeast Asia, nestled between countries like Thailand and Vietnam.

While there’s plenty of Thai restaurants around the Valley offer that dishes like Pho, which is similar to Laotian cuisine, there has been no all-Laotian restaurant until now.

Luangsaysana said they wanted their menu to cover all the bases without overwhelming people. It has numerous Laotian classics like Lao sausage, chicken curry soup, crispy rice salad and sweet pork stew with eggs.

This is the couple’s first time trying to run a business together. Duangpaseuth said she was both “excited” and “scared” at the same time.

Positive feedback is often the music that rings in a chef’s ears, the sign of a job well done. Duangpaseuth said hearing people compliment her on her meals is very motivating.

“I feel like, really happy... it makes me want to continue, make it bigger, you know? Keep going,” Duangpaseuth said.

Luangsaysana and Duangpaseuth both live in the Valley and plan to raise their children here. Their roots seem to be firmly planted.

“I think we’ll be here for quite some time,” Luangsaysana said. “We’re just happy to be a part of the community here.”

Cafe Khao Neow is located within the Creekside Plaza in Wasilla. The address is 1830 East Parks Highway, suite A131.

For café hours and more information, call 907-376-5426.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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