Dining Out


A Laotian Restaurant in Cary, North Carolina

A table spread with dishes at SAAP
Written by Emily Havener

At SAAP, chef Lon Bounsanga has created a menu of Laotian cuisine that truly lives up to the restaurant’s name: “yummy.” Many of the dishes will strike familiar Thai, Chinese, and Vietnamese notes with diners; flavors of fish sauce, cilantro, papaya, makrut lime, and lemongrass abound in dishes like the crispy coconut rice lettuce wrap, the pho lao with oxtail, and chicken curry. But each dish contains elements that makes it uniquely and traditionally Laotian, with a breadth and scope to the menu that ranges from fresh and light to hearty comfort food. And of course, there’s the local angle: the whole fish, fried or steamed, and the seafood green curry are sourced from the coast approximately four hours away.

Dining at SAAP is a family affair, with Annmarie, Lon’s wife and SAAP co-owner, hosting and expediting and their daughter Hera serving as the general manager; daughters Miranda and Noël work as servers. The restaurant, located just at the edge of the new Downtown Cary Park, has an elegant-casual atmosphere and modern features, and is open for lunch with a limited menu, but it’s at dinner that the full glory of the more than 30 small and large plates is available, so we recommend that you go with a group in order to taste as much as possible. 

SAAP Summer Rolls

You can easily make a meal out of a selection of small plates: The Lao herb sausage is not to be missed, with a light and delicious citrusy tang complemented by Asian spices. On the large plates menu, go hearty with the mee ka tee, or pork belly, coconut, and egg drop soup, or lighter with the lettuce wrap plate.

Although the menu offers almost every imaginable variety of animal protein, vegetarian fare abounds, from tofu options on many entrees to the kabocha squash and root vegetable curry. Salads are another prominent feature, and though you can’t go wrong, larb is a special treat, with chunks of meat mixed with fresh herbs and plenty of spicy heat. A note here about spice level: If you enjoy spice, start with medium; otherwise, request the heat on the side. And don’t miss the kabocha squash dessert, a tender baked squash quarter layered with ginger custard and coconut whipped cream—truly divine.

French wines characterize the beverage menu, with a sprinkling of others from all over the world. Cocktails offer as much insight into Laotian flavors as the food itself, with jasmine tea-infused gin riff on a gin rickey, a self-explanatory “ube colada,” and the Soy Into You old fashioned with bourbon enhanced by brown sugar sweet soy. You should also experience a nonalcoholic cocktail: the Lychee and Jazz is a highlight with lychee, jasmine tea, lime, and n/a bubbles.

Book a table here.

about this restaurant

  • Chef

    Lon Bounsanga

  • Address

    370 South Walker Street Suite 100
    Cary, North Carolina

    • Laotian

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