About 10 years ago, I lived in the Highlands on Cherokee Avenue between Grinstead and Highland, which was precisely one street behind Cahoots and a throng of other dives that provided ample opportunity to get myself into trouble. Most Saturday nights, that’s exactly what would happen: My girlfriend (now fiancee) and I would drink too much and stumble home to our dilapidated shit apartment, which has since been completely overturned into luxury condos.
After said benders, the following Sunday would often find us nursing spectacular hangovers looking for a comforting meal and source of entertainment, so instinctively we’d visit La Que (1019 Bardstown Rd) for a legit Vietnamese lunch experience followed by a trip to Wild & Woolley Video next door, which has since sadly closed (Why, God!?).
The entree that I’ve continued to come back to from La Que’s menu is the unbeatable Pad Kee Mao, a spicy noodle concoction that consists of flat rice noodles stir fried with green onions, bean sprouts and spicy basil sauce, with your choice of protein of course (chicken, pork, beef, shrimp or tofu).
I have consistently chosen chicken and have always requested it to be as spicy as possible, and while that request has at times fallen on deaf ears, I can easily say that this is even at its base a hot and saucy dish, so if you aren’t up for it, their menu has a plethora of other worthy options. As usual, I told our friendly waitress to prepare my pad kee mao as piping hot as possible, and after a split second of glaring resentment, she accepted my request and disappeared to the kitchen. Soon after she reappeared with my dish, and this is what it looked like (hallelujah!):
Considering that I was anticipating a spicy meal I instinctively requested a refreshing Tsingtao beer, which has been my personal favorite brew as of late. As I waited, I sipped my brew and looked outside as the weather was wet and gloomy, and the room I sat in was just as pleasantly gloomy making the anticipation for my heated meal fester more and more as every second passed.
As usual, my Pad Kee Mao was delivered rather quickly, and as you might expect I dove in head first with a fork and spoon (no chop sticks because I’m more or less an ape that doesn’t care). As I dug in, it was quickly apparent that nothing has changed with La Que as the quality with my dish was just as good as I remembered. The noodles were perfectly cooked, and the sauce, while flavorful wasn’t overbearing allowing the fresh ingredients to speak for themselves in each bite.
If you’re into spicy Vietnamese noodle dishes, then I can’t recommend this enough. Other spots in Louisville have Pad Kee Mao on their menu, but for me this has remained the best rendition in town.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Phillip Olympia is absolutely, positively not a food critic. Having said that, he really, really loves food, and he really appreciates Louisville’s effervescent independent restaurant scene which is why we have decided to embark on a weekly series of posts documenting a singular item from a particular menu from one of many local spots. We’re calling this series “Food For Fun” because, well, I don’t know. It’s a dumb name, but you’ll get over it.