Ever find yourself craving fish salsa? Just wander down Fremont Street—well past the Fremont East of Downtown Container Park and Atomic Liquors fame—to a strip mall where Sister’s Oriental Market has been for almost 30 years. If you hit Octapharma Plasma, you’ve gone a wee bit too far.
Sister’s is a family-run market-cum-Laotian/Thai restaurant. But since you can get pad thai anywhere in the Valley, why not explore the less prevalent cuisine of Thailand’s eastern neighbor instead? There’s a Lao-style papaya salad ($7), exuding fish sauce pungency while eschewing the peanuts typically found in the Thai rendition. And Sister’s has quite the collection of larbs (ground meat salads), ranging from the more common chicken to a drier spicy shrimp to raw beef (up to $12).
And then there’s that fish salsa. To be fair it’s not exactly fish salsa. But the roasted tomato dipping sauce—jeow marg len, if you happen to be sharpening up your Lao—is umami-laden with (surprise!) fish-sauce funkiness. And that’s a good thing. You can’t order it on its own (although it’s fabulous atop even just sticky rice), but it accompanies air-dried beef jerky ($11) that’s deep-fried to lessen some the characteristic chewiness. The acidic sauce contrasts the jerky’s richness, melding into as addictive a bite as you’ll find in town. Now go forth and explore east Fremont East. You’ve got the only excuse you need.
Sister’s Oriental Market 1732 Fremont St. #A, 702-386-9557. Daily, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.