My wife and I have eaten at Bida Manda twice, once with our grown sons and once with two colleagues. Both visits were terrific. The interior is interestingly decorated with bamboo-like reclaimed wood, and the place feels both simultaneously upscale and laid back. There's a long bar along one side (facing several tables), and other area behind a half-wall with more tables. The food is a wonderful mix of the familiar and the new (if you haven't experienced much Laotian food); the familiar items have interesting twists. The first time, we ordered the lettuce wraps, which were terrific; the second time, both the fried spring rolls and the (cold) fresh rolls, and they were fabulous. My wife ordered the caramelized ginger pork ribs with boiled egg, grilled asparagus, and jasmine rice on both her visits, and I joined her on that the second time, mostly because of how much she raved about them. This is melt-in-your-mouth pork that slides off the bone, marinated to perfection. I had the pad thai on the first visit (always a good test), and it was excellent. One of our colleagues ordered the pumpkin curry with root vegetables and jasmine rice and let us have a taste: first-rate, with interesting flavors and fairly spicy. My son ordered the catfish soup--he raved about it. The waiter brings little glasses of an interesting, cooling drink at the end of the meal, and a basket of shrimp chips at the start. Service on both occasions was excellent, except that on the second visit, our waiter told it us would be 15 minutes wait for a mixed drink because the second bartender hadn't arrived. We found that a little odd and ordered wine (which took a wee bit longer than expected but not annoyingly so). On the second visit, one of our colleagues had a peanut allergy and the waitstaff were super accommodating, explaining exactly what had peanuts and holding the peanuts from the special she ordered, a green papaya salad with huge shrimps (it normally comes with chicken. This is currently one of our favorite places in Raleigh. If you have wine or drinks, it won't necessarily be a cheap meal; we spent about $90 for two, including tax, tips, and two glasses of wine each. But well worth it. Reservations are helpful (with all the strong reviews); five days before a Saturday night, we had only a 6 p.m. or 10 p.m. option on Open Table; an hour after I made the reservation, there was only 5 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.