Ratchada Thai & Laos Cuisine sprang from the closing of Cafe De Laos, when two ex-employees, determined to keep Laotian cuisine represented in the Little Saigon neighborhood of Philly, took over the space and kept the kitchen going. Even though the Delta surge seems to be in decline, we are trying to only dine outside, so I only briefly peeked into Ratchada and don’t have much to report about the ambiance. The menu has a good selection of vegan and vegetarian options, although this is not readily apparent from their online menu.
The Dumplings: Ratchada serves three types of dumplings: Thai dumplings filled with ground pork, water chestnuts and Thai herbs; the Tulip dumpling filled with steamed ground shrimp, chicken and crabmeat; and the vegan Buddha dumpling. The Thai dumpling is a golf ball sized ball of pork and chopped water chestnut that is wrapped in a wonton, with the wonton smoothed around the meat so the dumpling is spherical. These dumplings are deep fried until the wonton has formed a crispy shell around pork, which stays very juicy and fragrant with Thai herbs. Be careful when biting into these dumplings, they stay really hot inside and also when you crunch through the shell, juice may shoot out. This was a very, very good dumpling. It came with a thick soy based dipping sauce and a cabbage slaw. The waitress told us that a lot of people don’t eat the slaw, apparently thinking it is decoration, but you must eat the slaw, it is delicious: sweet, sour, spicy and crunchy.
We also tried the Buddha dumplings as part of the Veggie Sampler appetizer. These have a more traditional dumpling shape and are filled with finely chopped edamame, corn and some kind of starchy tuber vegetable and are deep fried. These dumplings were also really good and were seasoned with a spice or herb I couldn’t identify, but enjoyed.
The waitress reported that all the dumplings an spring rolls, which were also great, are made in house from scratch.
The Location: Ratchada Thai & Laos Cuisine on 11th street just south of Washington street in the Little Saigon neighborhood. This the border of the South Philly and Hawthorne neighborhoods.