This is Highly Recommend, a column dedicated to our very opinionated editors’ favorite things to eat, drink, and buy.
I have spent much of my life eating sausage, one of the world’s great ingredients. Grilled kielbasa. Sausage with peppers and onions. Anise-heavy longanisa. Sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich. Currywurst. Pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe. Curry-laced sai ua. Boudin blanc. Fried rice with—you guessed it—sweet Chinese sausage. And you know what these sausages have in common? They’re not the pork and rice sausage at Bida Manda in Raleigh, which is the best sausage I’ve ever had. Hands down.
For the uninitiated, it’s a Laotian sausage made with pork, tons of aromatics, and—surprise!—rice. At Bida Manda, chef Lon Bounsanga makes it with a high-fat blend of ground pork (including pork belly) and jasmine rice, which in the past was used to stretch the meat in leaner times. Bounsanga continues to do this because the rice helps the sausage retain the flavor of the pork fat and all the other ingredients added to the sausage: lemongrass, dill, garlic, scallions, cilantro, and makrut lime leaves.
The result is an incredibly complex sausage with a texture that’s somewhere between crumbly and creamy and a flavor that juxtaposes lively, fresh herbs with salty, fatty pork. It comes grilled, sliced, and served with pickled ginger. And I now rest my case for the best sausage out there.
Go there: Bida Manda