Former Bida Manda and Brewery Bhavana chef Lon Bounsanga has announced plans to open a new Laotian street food restaurant, named SAAP, in Cary’s new downtown park in November. The restaurant is set to feature a dining room with 70 seats, a 10-stool bar, and a 20-person patio, with the menu consisting of items like grilled skewers of tiger shrimp, barbecue pork and chicken satay, and bowls of green curry. Bounsanga, who came to the US from Laos in 1978, has previously been part of successful restaurant launches including Bida Manda and Brewery Bhavana.
Laotian Street Food Restaurant SAAP to Open in Cary’s New Downtown Park
The former chef from popular Triangle spots, Bida Manda and Brewery Bhavana, is launching a new restaurant. Lon Bounsanga’s first solo restaurant, a Laotian street food concept named SAAP, will be a part of Cary’s highly anticipated downtown park.
SAAP is opening in the ground level of The Walker, a new apartment complex, and will overlook Cary’s $68 million park. It marks a new phase in Bounsanga’s restaurant career, where he’ll manage the entire dining experience.
“This is my first restaurant on my own,” Bounsanga said. “I was always in charge of the menu while others managed the front of the house. Here, I have to do everything.”
SAAP: A Different Dining Experience
SAAP, which means ‘yummy’ in Laotian, plans to offer a dining room with 70 seats, a bar with 10 stools, and a 20-person patio. The restaurant menu is designed to cater to foot traffic from the park, and reflect traditional Laotian street food.
The menu will feature grilled skewers of tiger shrimp, BBQ pork, and chicken satay. Bowls of green curry and aromatic pho, enriched with oxtail, and a locally famous version of pork belly soup, will also be available.
Bounsanga, who moved from Laos to the US in 1978, says food was a key source of comfort in his family. Now, he’s turned that love into a successful career.
Reflecting a Larger Role of Food in Lives
“Food is more than filling your belly. It’s the start of a conversation,” Bounsanga said. His restaurant career in Philadelphia and North Carolina has always aimed to demonstrate the wider role food plays in people’s lives.
As the executive chef, Bounsanga helped open Bida Manda and Brewery Bhavana, both gaining national acclaim. The latter was listed among Bon Appetit’s 10 best new restaurants in 2017.
Despite allegations of sexual misconduct involving managers at these restaurants, Bounsanga continued to support his staff. The chef says it was the unity and persistence of the staff that helped the restaurants recover from the scandal and the impact of COVID-19.
SAAP’s grand opening is planned for November 15, coinciding with the unveiling of Cary’s new downtown park.