BY DATHAN KAZSUK
Cary welcomes a culinary gem with the opening of SAAP, a Laotian restaurant under the creative guidance of Chef Lon Bounsanga. Located at 370 S. Walker Street, Suite 100, adjacent to the newly expanded Downtown Cary Park, SAAP beckons patrons into a world of exquisite flavors and innovative cuisine.
The menu at SAAP is an array of small and large plates, soups and sides, complemented by a well-stocked bar. Small-plate offerings include the vibrant green papaya salad, crispy spring rolls, ginger-infused chicken satay and a Lao beef jerky.
Larger plates showcase the culinary prowess of Chef Bounsanga; examples include the Larb, a mincemeat salad with a choice of protein, pan-seared whole fish, and the Crying Tiger—a chef’s cut of beef that is marinated, grilled, and served with papaya salad and sticky rice.
Loosely translated as “delicious” or “fancy,” SAAP is Chef Bounsanga’s flavorful creation following his tenure as the executive chef at Bida Manda and Brewery Bhavana in downtown Raleigh.
Notably, Bounsanga played a pivotal role in Brewery Bhavana’s global recognition, earning a spot on Forbes’ “10 Coolest Places to Eat” list and securing a semifinalist position for the James Beard Foundation’s Best New Restaurant in 2018.
The dining space at SAAP mirrors the essence of the surrounding Cary area—hip and contemporary, with subtle tones of tans, greens and bamboo that harmonize seamlessly with the natural lighting, creating a visually inviting atmosphere.
Midtown’s exploration of SAAP on a Thursday evening commenced with the ginger chicken satay—three marinated chicken thighs, moist and char-grilled, accompanied by a tangy peanut sauce. The satay was joined by the vegetable-filled spring rolls available with choice of pork, shrimp, or vegetables; we opted for the succulent shrimp.
The chicken and garlic was part of the spotlight for our main course—a savory delight of Airline chicken breast sliced into tender chunks, with ginger, bok choy, water chestnuts and sesame sauce, served with sticky rice. Next, the Lao-style pho presented a hearty bowl of beef bone broth, oxtail, sliced brisket, beef meatball and rice noodles—an ample portion for two, complete with a merry-go-round of sauces and spices to tailor the heat to your liking.
SAAP officially opened its doors on November 15, inviting guests for dinner Tuesday through Sunday, 5–10 p.m. With its proximity to Downtown Cary Park, SAAP offers an ideal setting for a perfect date night—a sentiment we wholeheartedly experienced. Step into SAAP—where culinary innovation meets Laotian tradition, creating an unforgettable dining experience in the heart of Cary.