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Fiery and Fragrant Lao Cuisine Lands in Kearny Mesa

Spicy Lao Kitchen opens with lesser-seen specialties

The front of a restaurant.
The Kearny Mesa storefront.
Candice Woo

Delivering Southeast Asian flavors to San Diego is a just-opened restaurant spotlighting traditional cuisine from Laos as well as some Thai dishes. Spicy Lao Kitchen is a new addition to the Spectrum Village Shopping Mall from the owners of JL Jerkys, an online business that also sells its popular lemongrass and Thai chili-infused beef jerky and Lao products from its storefront in the same Kearny Village Road complex.

Operated by the Lou family — wife Linda runs the front of the house while husband Joe is one of the cooks in the kitchen — the restaurant is currently open Monday through Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. but will be extending its hours next month.

Fried chicken wings.
Tom yum wings.
Candice Woo

Most of the dishes can be ordered on a heat scale of one to five, with five being properly “Lao spicy” and served with extra fresh Thai chilies to nibble on. For starters, there are Lao and Thai-style papaya salads, Laotian fish larb made with raw tuna, and Lao sausage served with a tomato and chili dipping sauce called jeow mak len, along with fried chicken wings with a tom yum seasoning. Other Lao specialties include nam khao, a crispy rice dish with cured pork, shallots, coconut, and peanuts, and a comforting shredded chicken soup called khao piek sen that features thick noodles, chicken feet, chicken skin, and cubes of pork blood.

While its tables will offer full-service dining, Linda Lou tells Eater that they are planning to use Spicy Lao Kitchen’s cafeteria-style counter to facilitate takeout orders. She says the menu options will also be expanded, and that beer and wine should be available soon.

Laotian crispy rice.
Nam khao.
Candice Woo

Spicy Lao Kitchen

5375 Kearny Villa Road, , CA 92123 (858) 229-8146