Opened in December 2019, Taurus Ox is truly a one-of-a-kind restaurant in Seattle. Combining local influence with traditional Lao food, you have probably never had cuisine like it. This Laotian kitchen is ran by three talented chefs: Khampaeng Panyathong, Sydney Clark and Jenessa Sneva.
For those who have never had Lao food before, it can be summed up in two words: bold and flavorful. Take the traditional Lao sausage, for example. Paired with sticky rice, this chunkier sausage contains lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and chili—a seemingly simple yet very distinct combination that creates a unique and savory sausage.
Another common and traditional dish is laap, a minced meat salad with herbs. Taurus Ox prepares its laap with chicken, seasoning it with lime, chili and toasted rice powder. It is paired with local, seasonal roots to be eaten like a lettuce wrap. This is a lighter and refreshing salad, perfect to add on to any order.
For a heartier, comfort food-like meal, thom khem is the go-to dish. Eaten with jasmine rice, this caramelized pork belly is braised with warming spices, ginger and soy. Added on top of the rice is a brussels sprout hash brown—non-traditional but definitely a tasty element. The egg, which is typically boiled in with the meat, instead gets cured with soy to add another layer of flavor.
The most distinctive (and most talked about) item offered is its burger. The chefs took common Lao flavors and meddled them together into a non-traditional burger. A toasted bun holds two smash patties, provolone cheese, pickled red onions, cilantro and taro stem, and is finished with jaew tomato and jaew bong mayo. (Jaew is a traditional Lao condiment, made many ways, but always containing the basics of garlic, chili and shallots.) Taurus Ox’s jaew tomato is a paste of tomato, charred garlic, chili, shallots and cilantro. It’s jaew bong is made with garlic, lemongrass, galangal and chili. Both of these condiments not only complete the burger, but also are great additions to their other dishes.
To wash everything down, the tequila tamarind cocktail is a good choice. A “tamarita,” as they call it, comes complete with a khao khua salt rim. Toasted rice powder and cumin add a nice little kick to each sip.
Taurus Ox, in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, has a very limited dining room and takeout is available. While you wait for your meal, the open kitchen allows you to see the small team working and invites you in with the invigorating aroma of Lao cuisine. Taurus Ox tends to be least busy between 2 and 4 p.m.
Taurus Ox is open Tuesday through Saturday, noon through 9 p.m. For more information about Taurus Ox, visit www.taurusox.com.