I got an email from Van telling me he was opening a new restaurant in Raleigh, NC and that he needed some photos. He mentioned that he was very moved with my pictures, he loves the ‘sense of place’ that they portrayed. These were the kind of photos he wanted for his restaurant. Van was opening a restaurant called Bida Manda and it was going to be serving food from his home country, Laos. Van and I talked for a bit and I was very impressed with his ideas and the directions he is taking his venture. We set a date for me to go to Raleigh and shoot some photos. Meeting Van was like running into an old friend, it felt comfortable right away. He showed me around his restaurant and talked with great passion and pride about what was happening. From the photo of his parents on their wedding day, the only one that was taken btw, to the reclaimed wood table tops to the danish table settings, to the hand gathered and hand tied limbs that line the bar and the back walls of the restaurant, every part of the restaurant has had some serious thought and consideration. I was honored to be a part of this. The restaurant is named Bida Manda to honor his parents. Bida Manda means Mother and Father in Lao. Meeting the principals, Van’s sister Vanvisa, bar manager Jordan and Chef Lon, it is easy to see that everyone is very dedicated to the idea of an awesome restaurant! I tasted most of the meals we shot and WOW this food is incredible! Chef Lon has created some very good dishes, many traditional, served with sticky rice and some with a modern twist. Everything is hand made to order, including the spring and summer rolls! If you’ve never had fresh handmade spring rolls, then you are really missing out! Jordan has come up with some great cocktails, taking a fresh twist on some old classics, such as the Cucumber Cooler, a twist on the gin and tonic. There is even special ice for some of the cocktails!
I wish Van and Vanvisa the best of luck and great success! And I cant wait to get back up there for dinner!
Many of the photos are here on the restaurants website www.bidamanda.com
Here are a few others -