Soul Lao is a complete reflection of who we are. We’re proud of our roots, our families, and our culture. That is our inspiration. We want to create a space where you can run to for comfort and adventure at the same time.
– Eric and Sabrina
How It All Started
When we first decided to take cooking serious, we went into it with a lot of emotion. We moved away from Minnesota and told ourselves to work toward something meaningful to make it worth being away from family. We packed everything up in our Honda Accord with our dog and headed to the west coast. Like nomads, we were trying to find our identity. Thai food was familiar, and everyone loves it. It didn’t take too long to find out that we weren’t cooking food that was true to our Lao roots and upbringing. Sometimes you leave home just so you can see where you came from with new eyes and extra colors. Coming back to where you started isn’t the same as never leaving. During our travels, we discovered ourselves through food and food was the main connection to our culture. We returned to Minnesota in 2017 determined to bring the community together by sharing the love of the food we grew up eating.
A Trip To The Motherland
In 2015 we travelled to Thailand and Laos. Originally, our plan was to learn how to cook Thai food and finish our trip to visit family in Laos. We went to different cooking schools in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Every morning we walked to the markets to shop for our ingredients. Everything we learned how to make was made from scratch. Imagine making your own curry paste and using fresh coconut milk, there’s a huge difference! I’ve worked in a few Thai restaurants here and everything was made for convenience because it was cheaper and less laborious. Unfortunately, there are some ingredients and services we don’t have access to here. Still, we learned to try our best to incorporate using the best products, hand select our ingredients which sometimes means hopping from one vendor to another.
Our trip to Luang Prabang, Laos was a reflection of our journey. To see with our own eyes where our families came from was a realization and turning point. We lost everything and at that moment we kind of found ourselves again. We’ve had the best food prepared for us in a small village every day. It was a simple lifestyle with so much soul behind it.
Leaving Laos was bittersweet. We plan to go back in 2019. This time we're bringing our daughter Willow to reconnect with family and culture—and of course, to collect even more recipes to bring back and share. Follow our travels and food stories on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.