The first thing you should know about the new The kitchen in Southeast Fresno, that’s how to pronounce it.
Despite the sign with the capital letters, this restaurant has nothing to do with Los Angeles. It’s pronounced La Kitchen, as in tra la la.
La is one of the owners’ first names.
Keomanivong has worked for Pelco for over 20 years. She always cooked separately, brought spring rolls to work events, and sold platters of holiday food.
“Everyone told me to open a restaurant,” she said. “I never thought of that.”
But when she was fired during the pandemic, she decided to give it a go by opening La Kitchen which serves authentic Laotian and Thai cuisine.
The restaurant is located in the former Taste Kitchen location on the southeast corner of Kings Canyon Road and Fowler Avenue.
The Kitchen is a quick service place where everything is served in take-out containers, whether you eat there or take it home.
Some take-out meals are prepared early in the day, placed on foam trays and wrapped in plastic. Like fried chicken with sticky rice.
Also on the menu: Shrimp or pork eggrolls, and pho, the popular Vietnamese soup made with noodles and steak.
What is popular so far?
The take-out fried pork belly served with sticky rice for $ 8.99 is a big seller, according to director Paul Tean. Nam khao, an appetizer, that is, fried rice made from sweet and sour marinated pork, is also popular.
Another option for those hot days? Larb.
It is a meat dish that is pronounced by pulling the sound “ah” and dropping the letter B. Here it is a cold dish of minced meat with herbs and peppers, available with chicken, fish. , pork, beef or shrimp for $ 7.99.
For those who want something a little more Americanized, the restaurant also offers Chinese dishes, like orange chicken and fried rice.
And there is one drink you should try just to see how it’s made: sugarcane juice.
Behind the counter is a container of green cane stems. Tean shows how he brews the drink by grabbing one and putting it into a metal machine. It crushes the stem, removing all the moisture, which is then poured into a drinking cup.
“Nothing added,” he said. “The only thing I added is ice cream.”
La Kitchen isn’t the only restaurant in town serving quick-service Laotian and Thai cuisine. Fresno has several other companies doing this, some of them twinned with Asian markets, like Charcuterie AC and Sweet Mango Mart & Deli.
Restaurants in Southeast Fresno
There is something else different about La Kitchen. If you linger for a while and listen to customers, many of them introduce themselves to workers.
They exclaim how happy they are to have such a restaurant in the neighborhood. They will tell homeowners where they live, or point out that they went to elementary school with a workman’s child.
There is a sense of community here that you don’t find in every new restaurant.
And maybe that’s because many Southeastern Fresno residents will tell you that they don’t have enough dining options in their part of town.
“Everyone on this side of town says we don’t have a lot of Asian restaurants here,” Tean said.
Details: The kitchen is at 6105 E. Kings Canyon Road. Hours: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. 559 / 515-6157.