The dining room’s sleek gray color scheme is accented by pops of pink from the fresh floral centerpieces.
A communal table faces the open kitchen, illuminated by clear glass pendant lights. By the bathrooms, a pink neon sign reading “From Asia with love” is positioned so that patrons can snap a photo of themselves with the reversed lettering in the opposite mirror.
Golden Valley’s stylish Lat14 Asian Eatery has come a long way from the space’s origins as a Perkins restaurant.
“People still pull into the parking lot, looking for an early dinner at Perkins,” says owner and chef Ann Ahmed with a laugh. Lat14 is Ahmed’s second restaurant—she opened Brooklyn Park’s Lemon Grass Thai Cuisine in 2005.
At Lemon Grass, Ahmed brings an approach to traditional Thai food that’s influenced by her Laotian heritage. Lat14 takes that concept one step further, with dishes from several southeast Asian countries along the 14th parallel, including Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Think a sausage platter with Filipino, Laotian, and Thai selections; jaew bong fried rice with pork floss; and a small plate-style bahn mi tartine.
At a recent preview, many of the dishes we sampled hit familiar (albeit tasty) beats. Red crab wontons were heavy on the crab and came with a housemade apricot sweet chili dipping sauce. The elongated shape of the lumpia—a Filipino pork egg roll—provided the perfect ratio of crisp wrapper to meaty filling. The bacon pineapple fried rice put glistening chunks of house-cured bacon in the starring role, balanced by the sweetness of the pineapple and golden raisins.
Other dishes will likely be new to many. The khao soi luang prabang is a brothy tomato stew with thick, chewy rice noodles and an entire bone-in pork rib. “Just grab one end and dig in!” Ahmed urges. While it might not be first date dining—there is absolutely no way to look suave while gnawing on a dripping piece of meat—it is delicious, with a moderate heat and cooling herbal notes. The Bangladeshi beef curry is served with a rice and lentil pilaf that Ahmed describes as a palette cleanser. “There’s an unexpected creaminess,” she says. “It goes really well with the beef—it’s the perfect marriage.”
The house cocktails we sampled had deceptively simple names for their complex ingredient lists: The Anchan combined butterfly pea flower-infused gin, housemade lemongrass syrup, fresh lemon juice, crème de Violette, and egg white, yielding a brilliantly purple concoction with an unexpected savory note. The Cucumber contained “spanked rosemary,” which left us with oh so many questions.
The Chiles, a spicy cocktail made with rum, mezcal, and tequila, has a nifty DIY feature. A little pile of chiles is served on the side, so that you can up to the spice level to your liking. Go a little overboard? There’s also a pile of kosher salt to neutralize some of the heat.
Lat14’s opening is scheduled for Tuesday, September 18, with daily dinner service starting at 5 p.m.
Lunch service will be added on October 1—those early birds cruising the parking lot in search of Perkins would do well to give it a try.
Lat14 Asian Eatery
8815 Seventh Ave. N., Golden Valley