Chef Lon Bounsanga is just days away from opening his own Laotian restaurant, Saap, in downtown Cary at 370 S. Walker Street. On November 15, the public will have a place to order pork belly soup, larb, green papaya salad, and more.
“Laotian cuisine has come a long way,” says Bounsanga, “When we started 12 years ago in Raleigh, it was very new to the public. It was hard because I not only had to introduce it to our guests, but I also had to teach the flavors and the techniques to our staff. But it has come a long way. We’re happy to open in Cary because we have a large fan base here who have asked for us to open here.”
Much of the Triangle knows Bounsanga as the executive chef of Raleigh restaurants Bida Manda and Brewery Bhavana. While critically acclaimed in their early years, the establishments weren’t without scandal when employees began holding management accountable for abuse of power. Bounsanga was not named in any of the reporting of inappropriate conduct.
Bounsanga now has a place of his own though, where he can continue to showcase the food of his childhood home of Vientiane, Laos. He’s proud to introduce more dishes like smoky pork skewers, North Carolina ginger prawns, and crying tiger, a grilled steak dish served with papaya salad. The menu is divided into small plates, large plates (with soups and curries), and a wok section (with fried rice and noodle dishes).
The chef is also excited to show off his new space, which his wife Annmarie helped him and his team design. They brought in the earth tones of Laos into the dining room with forest green accents, natural light woods, and large windows bathing the room in sunlight and allowing views of the lush greenery in Downtown Cary Park.
This is the peak of my career,” says Bounsanga, “With everybody’s help and the right partners, this is a dream come true.”
Starting November 15, Saap opens for dinner on Tuesday through Sunday, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and has plans to add in lunch service soon.