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Unpretentious Palate


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Editor's Note: This story is unlocked for everyone to read courtesy of the CRVA, our partner in nourishing culinary exploration for residents and visitors of the Queen City.

November 23, 2022

Where Chefs Eat: Mike Chanthavong

Chanthavong’s palate takes him across the city — and across global cuisines

by Kristen Wile

Mike Chanthavong

Chef Mike Chanthavong leading a sushi class. Kristen Wile/UP

Folks in the restaurant industry know good food, so we want to know where they eat when they’re not cooking. In this series, we ask a local chef, bartender, restaurateur, or food artisan to share their favorite restaurants in town and what they order there.

This week, we check in with Michael Chanthavong, Lao cuisine food truck owner and former executive chef at SouthPark restaurant Mizu and executive chef of O-Ku — both concepts from Indigo Road Hospitality Group. Chanthavong’s palate takes him all over town — and across global cuisines.

Benny Pennello’s, NoDa

Massive pizzas available with cheese, pepperoni, or two monthly specials
Mike’s order: Pizza by the slice

Let’s Meat, South End

Cook-it-yourself Korean barbecue from the owners of Seoul Food Maat Co.
Mike’s order: Unlimited Korean barbecue

Pho Hoa, Plaza Midwood

This pho on Central Avenue is a favorite among chefs
Mike’s order: Pho combination
Pro tip: “Ask for the herb oil that is scooped out of the broth during prep — that oil usually has green onion in it and will bring more depth to the broth,” Chathavong says.

Choi’s Korean and Wing, South Boulevard

Traditional Korean cuisine, including wings, noodles, and more
Mike’s order: Everything on the menu

Lee’s Cafe, Fort Mill

Authentic Chinese food, sushi, and Americanized Chinese fare on one menu
Mike’s order: Crispy pork intestine
Pro tip: “Ask for the iPad menu — it has more traditional foods than your usual sesame chicken,” Chanthavong says.

More from this series:

Patrick Gourmet’s Patrick Garrivier
Counter-‘s Sam Hart
Community Matters Cafe’s Ashley Anna Tuttle

Your Farms, Your Table’s Sam Diminich
Para’s Alex Verica

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