An admirable characteristic of both Chris and Charlie is their shared love of food – all food. They’ve taken up the defense of Lao food to a population that may not be able to find Laos on a map, but they shy away from nationalistic fanaticism in favor of a diverse palette. Charlie is jokingly called “our Italian grandfather” because of his refined taste for Italian food, his flooringly good puttanesca, and his love of Peroni. From rural Canadian diner fare, hot pot, sushi, Indian, Somalian to Portuguese cooking both are eager to weigh in with their opinion and appreciation. Laohaus’ “Random Haus” menu of fried chicken, the good burger, and poutine is accessible to an overwhelmed diner and lovingly executed.
“You see people standing there, not really sure what larb is, looking uneasy like ‘I don’t know about this’ – so there’s that whole menu. The adventurous people will order whatever, the conservative people will order what they already know. But the thing about it was that if we were gonna do it I wanted it to be bomb. If I’m going to put fried chicken on the menu, I want anyone to come in and be like ‘this is really good.’ Now people that I see get Lao food all the time also come in and eat a good burger and also say that its really good, and that’s what I want. I don’t want people to eat it and enjoy it only because it’s different to them, but because its really good and that’s why we also do stuff that’s familiar to people.”
Another restaurant in town with a rival claim challenged Chris about claiming to have the best fried in town. “They said they wanted to do a fried chicken cook off and let the customer judge and whoever lost had to put ‘second best fried chicken in town’ on the menu. I wanted to do it!” Chris raises his shoulders flaring himself up for a fight and laughs, “Stuff like that gets me fired up! It never happened though, so I’ve kept it on the menu.”
“We grew up in Canada,” Charlie explains: “we love fried chicken. We love burgers. We have the Lao menu and that’s food we grew up with, but also Canadian food. How many restaurants could have both without it being pretentious and shit?”