An unassuming food stand at the Vancouver Farmers Market, WeLa Lao has been quietly churning out some of the best Southeast Asian food in the Portland-metro area since May.
Last year, proprietor Suzanne Phengsy was displaced by the Almeda fire when it devastated the town of Phoenix, Oregon. She was readying to open WeLa in either Medford or Ashland, the two bigger cities that sandwich Phoenix. Instead, she lost all of her commercial kitchen equipment when the fire ripped through Phoenix two days after her birthday. That didn’t stop Phengsy from her mission of introducing people to the complex flavors of Lao food; she relocated to Vancouver to start afresh.