Triangle Restaurant Week is a week-long celebration of culinary excellence that includes restaurants in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and other surrounding areas. For me, Restaurant Week is an opportunity to try a new-to-me restaurant. Restaurant Week happens two times a year and I try to make it if all possible. (If you recall, I tried out Battistella’s in January as a part of Restaurant Week.)
Before I get to the review, let me start with this: Make a reservation now at Bida Manda. It’s been on my list of places to try but for some reason we never made a point to dine at Bida Manda. And we’ve been missing out.
Bida Manda is a Laotian restaurant and the term “Bida Manda” is a term for “mother” and “father.” The food is a flavorful marriage of Vietnamese, Thai, and Chinese cooking traditions with French sensitivity.
The restaurant space is beautiful. The wood that you find on the walls was salvages from old barns and church walls.
First of all, the service was impeccable. Our waiter was fantastic despite having a high-volume of customers and I would go back for the service alone.
Secondly, the drinks were seasonal and delicious.
I ordered the Jamaican 75. It’s on their new bar menu which isn’t posted online yet but it was a mix of rum, hibiscus simple syrup, citrus and sparkling wine.
Perfectly sweet without being overwhelming.
While the regular menu was available for us to order from, we were there for Restaurant Week so we ordered off the 3-course menu.
The waiter highly recommended the sausage appetizer and the lettuce wraps. While Big Guy’s sausage was delicious, the lettuce wraps stole the show.
Crispy Rice Lettuce Wraps with herbs, peanuts and lime
Taste buds were blown away. This was hands-down the favorite plate of the night. The description gives this appetizer no justice what-so-ever. I happily shared with Big Guy because this portion is huge. Perfect for sharing with the whole table. Though you might be tempted to order another plate of them. The next time we return, we will no doubt order this dish.
The waiter also gave us recommendations for the entree selection. He did not hesitate to recommend the Crisp Pork Belly Soup and the Green Papaya Salad.
Big Guy ordered the soup. But soup isn’t a fair word for this dish.
Kaffir lime leaf coconut curry broth, julienned fresh vegetables, peanuts, local herbs, rice noodles, and house-made crispy pork belly
Savory and succulent, this dish was a pleasure to taste.
As for me, I went with the salad. But it’s not really a salad. First of all, there’s no lettuce. Secondly, the papaya is cut into noodle-like strips and served warm and tossed with a delicious sauce. And finally, there’s really no green on the plate – expect for the lime and the dill.
Julienned green papaya, tomato, house-made tamarind and lime sauce, peanuts
For the protein, I ordered the Crispy NC Soft Shell Crab.
I actually don’t typically like crabs because they are so.much.work to get a bite of meat. But with soft shell crabs you can eat every.single.bite. And since it’s seasonal and not often on the menu, I was glad that I went that route.
And then dessert was served.
The dessert is where I tasted the French inspiration of the Lao cuisine.
French Macaroons with a shot of Chocolate milk. The macaroon was a lemon-lime flavor with a blueberry cream filling.
It reminded me of the most amazing lemon bar ever.
And I couldn’t tell you the last time I had chocolate milk.
The perfect ending to the most amazing dinner.
I cannot wait to go back!
And after dinner, we stumbled upon a sandcastle. In the middle of downtown.
And this is why I love date nights with Big Guy.