Foodie Trails of

Luang Prabang

Our Must-Try List of Local Fare

For the Laotian people, sticky rice is the main staple of their diet. Sticky rice as it’s name suggest naturally sticks together so it is easily roll into small balls, dip into food and eaten. It constitute 90 percent of their diet, not so much for its nutritional value but rather for their daily sustenance.

 

A traditional everyday Lao meal is simple and normally consists of vegetables and at least one kind of spicy sauce as a dip with fish or meat. If you have never eaten sticky rice in this manner, give it a try and you might be pleasantly surprised.

 

If sticky rice is the king of Lao diet, then noodles are like its running mate. Fresh or dried, wide and flat or thin and round, noodles can be eaten as a meal in itself or as a side dish. It is served in many forms of which we will recommend in our food guide but usually in delicious hot piping flavoured soup. As vegetable is in abundance here, don’t be surprise if your noodle comes with a huge plate of it with condiments as an accompaniment.

(Steam Rice Noodle Roll)

Very similar to the Chee Cheong Fun in certain part of South East Asia, Nam Kao is sold only for breakfast. In Laos, this is freshly steamed upon order and rolled up with a generous portion of minced pork meat. Here is where it differs as Lao version can be plastered with a whole egg folded within the steam rice noodle into a square.  You have the option of either duck or chicken egg. And for the more adventurous, both.

Nam Kao is eaten dipped in a sauce much like the Cantonese version. Consisting of fish sauce as its base, mildly sweeten with brown sugar and a dash of soya sauce to taste. Ground peanut is added by preference and to spice it up, homemade chilli paste is provided.

Definitely a favourite amongst the Asian tourists.

Useful Information
Served only during breakfast.
Cost of meal: From 5,000 Kip onwards.
 

(Noodles in Tomatoes and Soy Bean Paste)

Not to be mistaken with the Thai version of Kao soi, the dish here uses a clear pork stock and it is topped with a bolognese of mince fatty pork, tomatoes, chilli and fermented soy bean paste which gives it a bright red hue. 

The Kao soi village of Laos is Ban Siliheuang in Muang Sing Province. A visit would be incomplete if you do not experience this delicious noodle meal since this province is famous for its pork and meat sauce which is the key ingredient topping of Northern Lao Kao soi.

Before digging into this sumptuous meal, it is customary to throw in some watercress, local bail, mint leaves and a squirt of lime.

Useful Information
Available through out the day and you can choose the type of noodles (thick or thin noodle).
Cost of Meal: From 15,000 kip onwards.
 

(Noodles in Coconut Milk and Chicken/Fish Paste)

Khao pun is a favourite amongst the locals especially as it is spicy and rich in vegetables, aromatic herbs and fragrant spice. A rice vermicelli soup that is also known as Lao laksa which overtime has gain popularity through out Southeast Asia.

It consists of pounded or shredded chicken, fish, or pork that is seasoned with ingredients such as lime leaves, galangal, garlic, shallots, chili peppers, and perilla. 

Like many traditional dishes, there is no one way to make a good khao poon, and each chef will add his own touch to make it more or less spicy and aromatic. Usually served with tenderized pork organs and meat, you can also opt to eat it without. Equally delicious as the strength of this dish is in its soup.

Useful Information
Available throughout the day and you can choose the type of noodles (thick or thin noodle).
Cost of Meal: From 15,000 kip onwards.

(Lao Style Beef Noodle Soup)

(Lao Style Beef Noodle Soup)

The main type of noodle found here is spelt “Pho” or “Fer”. The most renowned “Fer” noodle hails from the Xiangkhouang province or also known as “The Plain of Jars”.
The condiment staples on the table is what sets the Lao “Fer” apart from its neighbouring nations which serve a similar meal. The strength in its condiments of prawn and fish paste surpasses those in Thailand and Vietnam and enriches the stock of the soup when added. Those who prefer a milder taste should avoid adding too much of it.
Although the name of this meal suggests that it is only served with beef, you can also choose to have it with chicken or pork. The reason for its name is because the soup stock derives from the parboiling of beef bone to create its deliciously rich broth.

Delectable on a nice cool day, but we Asians would relish this meal even in the sweltering heat.

Useful Information
Available throughout the day and you can choose the type of noodles (thick or thin noodle) and meat accompaniment.
Cost of Meal: From 15,000 kip onwards.
 

Inspired by the Thai Mookatha, called Sindat in Laos, it resembles a combination of a Korean barbecue and a Chinese hot pot. 

Sliced meat is grilled on the dome in the centre while the vegetables and other ingredients, such as meatballs, fish slices are cooked in the soup. The hot pot sits on a trough burning charcoal and grills or steams the ingredients. Condiments are available for you to concoct sauces to suit your palate as flavourings for the meat ranges from mild to spicy.

Sindat here are all buffet style and the amount and type of meat leaves you spoilt for choice. For those who wish to have a lighter version will not feel left out as the variety of vegetables, meatballs, tofu and mushrooms are plentiful. On top of that you even get to sample cooked dishes consisting of Lao style deep fried spring roll, sweet soy sauce ribs, tempura to name a few.

Well worth it to try out this cuisine whilst in Luang Prabang.

Useful Information
Available only for dinner and starts from six in the evening.
Cost per person: From 70,000 kip onwards.

Eateries, Bakeries, Cafe and Desserts

Our Must-Try List of Local Fare

The French during its colonization in Laos influence greatly the food culture hence the introduction of bread and the famous baguette.  


Today, most notably, “Kao Jee” or Lao sandwich is served in French baguette and often contains generous portion of pork filling, garnished with pickled carrots, onion, cilantro and dolloped with a generous spread of mayonnaise. To spice it up, the locals concocted a special mildly sweet chili paste which is slap on before the addition of the fillings.

Overtime coffee houses began sprouting in Laos and chilling out at these joints became a lifestyle amongst both the more affluent locals and tourists. Most cafes here offer artisan buns, pastries and cakes although the texture and taste varies from one to the other.

There is little known about the type of desserts in Laos and so no easy way to sum this up. Fortunately desserts here range from types of cakes to jelly to custard and from ice cream to yoghurt. But generally it is safe to say that it is mostly coconut based, healthy with a good mix of fruits and sweetness.

As rich in flavour as Laotian food is, it is equally light on sweet flavour. There is a saying in Laos that goes like this: “Sweet makes you dizzy; bitter makes you healthy.”

A warm and cosy home style restaurant, you will find that eating in Joy Restaurant is as good as having a home cooked meal. Should you yearn for the familiar and even if the dishes are not those that is common in your home town, having a meal here leaves you feeling as if you are amongst family.

Pictures of photos taken in various scenes throughout Laos of people and places adorn her walls. Joy Restaurant lovingly named after its owner prides herself in ensuring that the ingredients used are always fresh and that is what makes her dishes so satiating.

On her menu you will find deep fried spring roll, papaya salad, riverweed for appetizer. Green curry with pork or chicken, Pad Thai and Fried Rice to name a few is available as part of her main course. We highly recommend her signature dish of Curry Fish cooked in coconut cream and fragrant with local spices and the Deep Fried Fish with spice.

A most enjoyable place to go to for a home cook meal experience as you bask in its cosy ambience.

Useful Information
Open for lunch and dinner. 
Cost of Meal: A meat dish with steam rice is approximately from 30,000 kip onwards.
 

Set amidst a beautiful landscaped garden and enveloped by the beauty of three lotus ponds, it is deemed to create a romantic ambience for couples but is also well suited for a gathering of close friends.

Famous for its Laotian family cuisine from all regions of Laos, you will find on the menu a good mix of traditional and fusion food to suit each palate. Well known for fusing the traditional and the modern, this would be a good place to experience the changing scene of the local cuisine.

A little pricey even for the more affluent locals, it cannot be denied that the standard of the food served here is above the local fare.

As in all established restaurant, Manda De Laos has its own followers who testifies to what is sumptuous. We highly recommend our readers the signature dish Phed Makham which is duck tenderized in a special tamarind sauce created by their chef. And also a must-try is their most tender and succulent pork-ribs. They also served a good selection of wine and liquor.

Useful Information
Open for lunch and dinner, reservation is recommended.
Cost of Meal: A dish of greens starts from 45,000 kip onwards and meat dishes could start from 80,000 kip onwards.

The secret behind the name Secret Pizza is all about location, location, location! It is a common cause for a chuckle when en route to the restaurant that it is no wonder the place is name as such. The ride there takes you off the beaten track into a cul-de-sac where a surprise awaits you. Nestle in a privately owned home you will find in the garden a traditional outdoor brick oven where you get to literally see the dough of your pizza rising as it cooks. Pizzas here are all thin crust and because of that you never have to wait too long for your meal. Available to all dine in guest is a salad bar where you get to make your own salad. Just toss a bag of greens, tomatoes and even avocados with a splash of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

We don’t say this lightly, but you really have to try the lasagna. Layer upon layer of soft buttery pasta with the delicious combination of ground meat perfectly seasoned with tomatoes and softened onions with just the right amount of hot creamy cheese. How could you possibly give that a miss! Oh and lets’ not forget the pizza. The thinness of Secret Pizza’s crust makes the ingredients taste better over the thick crust version that tends to overpower the toppings with its’ hefty crust. The appeal of having the pizzas here is that you can enjoy having more than one variety without feeling overstuffed with dough.

Useful Information
Open for dinner and only on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Cost of Meal: 40,000 kip onwards for lasagna and 60,000 kip onwards for pizzas.
 

Cafes And A Brief History On Lao Coffee Culture

If exceptionally good coffee is what you are looking for, then you've come to the right place. Well, at least this is what some of the locals boast about. Of course, this depends on personal taste, but for the Laotians they prefer their coffee strong and robust.

 

In southern Laos on the Bolaven Plateau and surrounded by the scenic view of waterfalls, is where most of the coffee plantation lies. Due to its elevated plains and which approximates 1,000 meters above sea level, giving it the ideal climate that is well suited for the sprawling of coffee beans. Introduced by the French colonialists, majority of the coffee plants produces Arabica coffee beans and is touted as one of the highest grade of coffees.


With the increase in popularity for organic farming, tourist will find a growing variety of delicious organic coffees sold in major food and tourist shops around Laos.

The most common brand you will find on the shelves of the local supermarket and convenient stores is Dao Coffee, which offers numerous blends and roasts. A bag could cost from 23,000 kip onwards depending on the blend. If you want to indulge in a cup of freshly brewed coffee, pop into any of the western-style cafes that serves a standard selection of lattes and cappucinos, brewed with Lao coffee — a delicious fusion of coffee cultures.

Cafes​

A great cup of coffee, in a cosy cafe, is one of the best ways to spend your time in the relaxed town of Luang Praband, Laos, while watching the world go by. Producing both Robusta and Arabica beans, you’ll find a good few coffee shops roasting high quality beans for decent prices, along with a decadent slice of cake or two. Here are some of our favorites.

Taking pride in guaranteeing that it uses a 100 percent Arabica coffee and freshly roasted locally, Joma truly serves a good cuppa! Decaffeinated coffee is available though most would recommend that you go for the full blend. Of course with coffee, you will also find a good selection of hot and cold tea here. This cafe has a small food selection, from cake with your coffee, to sandwiches, wraps and salads. They also offer a good breakfast menu and if you are looking for somewhere relaxing to do your work, they have good wifi connectivity.

Useful Information
Open from 7a.m to 9p.m.
Cost of a cup of coffee and a slice of cake: 50,000 kip onwards
 

Taking pride in guaranteeing that it uses a 100 percent Arabica coffee and freshly roasted locally, Joma truly serves a good cuppa! Decaffeinated coffee is available though most would recommend that you go for the full blend. Of course with coffee, you will also find a good selection of hot and cold tea here. This cafe has a small food selection, from cake with your coffee, to sandwiches, wraps and salads. They also offer a good breakfast menu and if you are looking for somewhere relaxing to do your work, they have good wifi connectivity.

Useful Information
Open from 7a.m to 9p.m.
Cost of a cup of coffee and a slice of cake: 50,000 kip onwards
 

It's goal at Zurich Bread Factory and Cafe is for their customers to experience the familiar tastes and aromas of home. "Just as Thais eat rice everyday, Europeans have the same urge with bread," as rationalized by it's owner Mr. Singhathep Thepkanjana. Thus Zurich Bread became the very first bread factory in Laos to make most of its bread from unbleached flour. Here you will find bread baked by hand and crafted with quality down to the crumb. The cake is hand-decorated and moist with mild sweetness.
Great as a place to chill out in the afternoon as you sip on a nice hot piping coffee or a cool ice coffee freeze with a slice of bread and cake.

Useful Information
Open for breakfast until 8p.m in the evening.
Cost of a cup of coffee with bread or cake: 50,000 kip onwards
 

Popular with the local young and old, this parlor serves a variety of homemade ice cream. The choices so plentiful that at times you cannot help but feel overwhelm. Family on weekends could be seen chilling out with their children. Most locals will head for this place after a hearty dinner to satiate their craving for something sweet. Some would order a scoop of ice cream of choice dollop with a splash of homemade yoghurt or just have the yoghurt “straight-up”.

Tangy with a tad of sweetness, this yoghurt is truly the alternative to indulging in a decadent dessert.

Next to the parlor under the same ownership is a bakery that serves light spongy cream cakes. Choices of strawberry, coffee, coconut, pandan and chocolate are usually available. They also have buns with sweet and savory fillings.

A note of caution, the cakes and buns usually run out very fast.

Useful Information
Usually open after lunch hour for the ice cream and yoghurt parlor. The bakery operates from 4p.m.
Cost: 5,000 kip onwards from small (1 scoop) to (3 scoops). Cakes and buns are 7,000 kip onwards.
 

Back To Nature: Nahm Dong Park

Be it the untouched wilderness or a tree in a park, when we get closer to nature we do our overstressed brain a favor. In these places we get to leave the confinement of our minds as we surrender to an unplanned and emergent world. To be surprise as we encounter the wonders of nature and the unfolding of its natural existence. We get to exercise emotions once thought buried and rediscover the child inside. Why should we not then have such places for our holiday destination, to escape into when we feel the need?

With plenty a spot for a picnic, surrounded by the breath taking view of the valley and accompanied by the sound of the white water cascading down a series of rocky outcrops that transform into the waterfall of Nahm Dong Park, this is the place to be as we embark on a "Back To Nature" adventure".

The fear of the unknown tends to keep us from venturing forth into unchartered waters. Being told that there is an age limit to adventure does not help either. But at Nahm Dong Park we will discover that to be unfounded. Approximately ten kilometres from Luang Prabang, visitors will be surprise to feel as if they are in the middle of the jungle whilst in close proximity of a town. It is a wonderful place and being a family friendly park, there are activities to occupy the young and old alike as they engage with nature. 

Mindful of the needs of their visitors, Nahm Dong Park through a well plan design offers numerous activities to satisfy the pursuits of every individual. From the thrill seekers to the trail seekers, this place will leave none feeling left out. A two course zipline program for both child and adult with options of thrill and skill levels is available. Participants will be accompanied by well train guides that will ensure a safe and fun time. The zipline circuit for the children, located at a different area from the adult's offers just as much excitement. The circuit for the adults takes them soaring through the valley and forest of Nahm Dong Park with a spectacular view and it is an exhilarating experience even for the seasoned zipliners.

After the adrenaline rush of the thrilling flight through the park, visitors get to wind down by meandering through the winding trail that takes them past a field of flora fauna and a thriving organic farm. The fragrance emanating from the herbs soothes your whole being. Visitors would be pleased to know that when they dine at Nahm Dong's View Point Cafe, which overlooks the canyon and valley, the herbs and spices for the dishes including the refreshing homemade drinks are sourced from their own organic farm. All freshly pick. Visitors may also choose to order a picnic set meal catered by Nahm Dong Park while venturing through the forest. There are many shady spots to lay a mat and enjoy the view as they tuck into a scrumptious meal. 

Talking about the attraction of this place would not be complete without delving into the substantial menu. Starting from appetizers consisting of their "signature Duck spring rolls to the "Home grown sweet potatoes." Main courses like "Quails in sticky rice crust" and "Duck stew" and not forgetting the favourite "Coconut rice with mango" for dessert accompanied by herbal drinks made with fresh herbs from the organic garden. You would not want to miss out on a fine meal here.

So do yourself a favour and when in Luang Prabang, make a visit to Nahm Dong Park a must!