A Hosting of Gratitude for Bida Manda
If only I could feel one ounce of joy felt by the parents of brother and sister, Vansana and Vanvisa Nolintha, owners of Bida Manda Laotian Restaurant. They must have an inexhaustible surplus of begetter’s delight when they consider the acts of their offspring, and clearly, they are parents that are willing to share. Why else would two children devote themselves with such passion? They know they have been given a gift, The Grace of Parents, and as this bestowal has been deeply instilled, naturally, that radiation moves through them and unto those of us they encounter. So maybe, in a sense, just by visiting their restaurant, a living tribute to this Grace of Parents, I have shared in the joy.
As I speak with ‘Van’ (Vansana) about the restaurant, he smiles and says, “It’s All About This” as he motions a circle around his face. In building a tribute to his parents, a business plan devoted strictly to cash-flow would be untrue to the spirit of the offering. The emphasis of Bida Manda is storytelling first and foremost. The story is of home, Laos, where Vansana and Vanvisa are from and where their parents still live. Both children arrived stateside as pre-teens and stayed with a host family to pursue their educations. The story is of love of food, Laotian Food, which Van recognized a lack of authenticity here in the states and wanted to create a space to share of his homeland’s cuisine and assist those unknowing, with discovery of something new. The story is of bringing people together, whether it is guests that are regulars or first timers, or the mix of staff and friends that participate in the homage and have helped to build this dream of the Nolintha’s, with others in mind, this space exist. ”It’s All About This”.
The offerings of Bida Manda are based on the Nolintha’s culinary remembrances of family and growing up in Laos and are realized with the help of Chef Lon Bounsanga. The food provided is considered by Van as one of the few offerings of authentic Laotian cuisine to be found in the U.S. Laotian cuisine has been described as pulling influences from Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese but also incorporates some French techniques in the preparations. Using some family recipes and fresh local ingredients, Bida Manda creates connections from their current locale to their Laotian home.
It’s astounding to me when I think of how young Vansana and Vanvisa are as both are in their mid to late twenties. It’s another testament to the upbringing they are honoring as well as to the depth of sacrifice that the Nolintha’s have endured to create this life. I’m glad they have found a surrogate home here in Raleigh. They are a living example of young, entrepreneurial spirit that the city is harboring and that through sacrifice, generosity, hospitality, and optimism that home can be created where ever you may have family or friends.