Smile Politely

Lanxang brings the heat, in the most enjoyable way

Lanxang is a Thai-Lao restaurant that opened in Champaign in July. Its owners previously owned and operated a food truck, which offered very good food. The brick-and-mortar is located in the former Good Fella Korean Bistro on Neil Street and Stanage, halfway-ish between Springfield and Kirby. 

Over the past several weeks, I’ve ordered delivery and take out, trying a variety of dishes. I have not dined in — I didn’t have the time or mental space for that sort of luxury. (In these pandemic times, you do the best you can.) I am pleased to report that for all the take out and delivery I’ve received, all of the dishes have been piping hot and fresh. I feel confident in recommending delivery especially, since I’ve had such good luck, though I recognize that a slow — or dare I suggest negligent — delivery service / driver could ruin the yum potential. Your mileage may vary. 

Now that I am no longer the Food & Drink editor, I feel slightly liberated to wallow in my comfort zone, regularly ordering what I love, as if I’m not able to order it again and again and again. To that end, my favorite Thai dish is pad kee mao. I love the freshness of the peppers and basil paid with spiciness. As I’ve already discussed in a SPlog, Lanxang’s pad kee mao is top notch. I’ve ordered it a couple of times, and each time I’ve been more than pleased. My go-to protein is tofu; I almost always order spicy number two. 

Fair warning: Lanxang does not mess around with spice. If you are heat-adverse, order a one knowing that there will likely still be some spiciness. My intention is not to throw too much shade at other restaurants in town, but there are certainly some where ordering toward the top of their spice level does not beget spiciness. Lanxang is not that type of restaurant. If you like a little heat without, ah, gastrointestinal consequences, start with a one or two and work your way up. 

Pad kee mao. A closely cropped photo of pad kee mao, which includes wide noodles, tofu, and mixed veggies. Photo by Jessica Hammie.

Pad kee mao. Photo by Jessica Hammie. 

Anyway, the pad kee mao: the noodles were so nice and fat and chewy. I love that. They held the sauce nicely, and there was an excellent veggie-noodle-tofu ratio. You cannot go wrong ordering this dish. 

Another excellent option is the pad Thai ($12.95). Lanxang’s pad Thai has the requisite eggs, peanuts, and thin noodles. The sauce was complex and well balanced, and not at all too sweet, which I appreciated. I ordered mine with chicken, which was well cooked but not overcooked, and a good vehicle for the flavors of the sauce. 

A round, white plate with portions of fried rice, Thai spring roll cut in half, and pad Thai. There is a small plastic container with a dipping sauce on the plate as well. Photo by Jessica Hammie.

Clockwise, L-R: Duck fried rice, Thai spring roll, pad Thai. Photo by Jessica Hammie.

On a particularly hot day not too long ago, I decided to order the Thai vegetable spring rolls ($5.25). Each order contains two fresh spring rolls with lettuce, herbs, and some veggies inside a rice wrapper. The veggies were crisp and cold and snapped when bitten into — the freshness was abundant. These spring rolls are best when you just need a little bit of cold to prepare your palate for (or repair from) hot and spicy dishes.  

I’ve ordered and tried both the duck and shrimp fried rice ($12.95 each). Both are, like the other dishes, generously portioned. I found the duck fried rice to be a little more oily than the shrimp; this makes sense, given the fat content in duck versus shrimp, and I was not put off by it. Ordering at a spice level of one lends just a teeny hint of heat, but allows the sweetness of the duck or the shrimp to dominate. Both dishes had an ample amount of protein, too. 

Pad lard nar in a round, black plastic take out container on a wood table. The dish includes wide noodles, tofu, and broccoli in a dark sauce. Photo by Jessica Hammie.

Pad lard nar. Photo by Jessica Hammie. 

Pad lard nar with tofu and broccoli ($12.95) was so rich and decadent. The sauce? Thick and savory, flavorful and glossy, but not fatty or unctuous. The noodles, which were partially fried, offer different textures that were truly enjoyable to eat. It’s a good surprise in each bite. The broccoli was tender-firm, and the tofu was both soft and a little chewy, which I liked. 

The Panang curry ($12.95) was very coconut-y, and the veggies were well cooked, which is to say, they were tender but not mushy. I ordered this with chicken, a neutral protein that did well to absorb the flavors of the curry. 

My husband has frequently ordered the barbecue pork yellow noodle soup ($10.95), at varying levels of spice. He loves it. I’ve managed to sneak a couple bites and can confirm that the broth is flavorful and well balanced. Especially as we move into colder months, a spicy, hot soup is super yummy. 

Fried chicken wings in a takeout container lined with tin foil. The wings are whole. There is a small plastic container with a spicy dipping sauce. Photo by Jessica Hammie.

Chicken wings. Photo by Jessica Hammie. 

Finally, we tried the chicken wings entree (served with rice, $14.95). I was a little worried that ordering fried chicken wings via delivery would mean soggy wings, but they were packaged in a way to prevent the sogginess and were still hot and crispy when they arrived. As you can probably tell from the photo, they were battered and fried whole wings. They were excellent. 

I’m a dessert fiend and could not not order the mango sticky rice. Oh man, do I love good mango sticky rice. When all of the ingredients come together — the perfectly ripe mango, warm, sweet, sticky rice with coconut milk poured over the top — it feels indulgent and comforting and refreshing, all at the same time. Lanxang’s mango sticky rice is generously portioned and affordable ($5.95). This is a regular item on my order. 

Mango sticky rice. Sticky rice is topped with large chunks of mango and some cashews in a white takeout container. The entire dish is drizzled with coconut milk. Photo by Jessica Hammie.

Mango sticky rice. Photo by Jessica Hammie. 

If you haven’t tried Lanxang, I recommend that you do so. While I cannot speak to the dine-in experience, my experiences with take out and delivery have been very positive. I imagine that would also be the case for dining in. The food is appropriately priced, generously portioned, and most importantly, really good. Lanxang is a regular in our take out rotation, and someday soon, I swear, I will dine in. 

905 S Neil
M-Sa 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Top photo by Jessica Hammie.


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