Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dish highlights from Luang Prabang (Part 4)

"What's Lao food like?". "Did you eat just street food or at restaurants?". "What were your favourite dishes in Luang Prabang?"

Well, in summary...

Every Asian foodie worth their MSG can't resist the comforting clear broth of a noodle soup. Called Khao Soi, they are very much in the same style of Vietnamese Pho or Malaysian Kuey Teow Teng. Their noodles are a little springy-er than what we get in Malaysia, which I couldn't get enough of. And like us Malaysians, the Lao love to douse theirs with plenty of jeaow, or chilli.

One of the prettiest dishes I had was stuffed lemongrass, at Tamarind, one of the "sanitised" restaurants along the Nam Khan River. Like an oriental stuffed courgette, these immediately attractive skewers contained minced pork with herbs, to be dipped in a chilli, garlic, shallot, dried prawn, lime paste. The pork was perfectly infused with lemongrass, and my tongue tingled in a staccatoed Riverdance.

More like a lowlight, my foremost disappointment was a stodgy and tasteless Lao Style Sandwich which I was hoping to be more like the Banh Mi I found in Adelaide. Don't. Go. There!

The Lao are fond of their meats, we saw strings of local sausages made out of buffalo hung up like party celebrations at most eating joints in town. Unctuous and a tad too oily for me, I preferred these little Akha meatballs, coming from the Ahka hill tribe, in North Laos. Again very herby, and made with a little buffalo blood for depth of flavour.

To end on a sweet note, I was stunned at this precious tarte au poire at Le Cafe Ban Vat Sene. Located across from the Luang Prabang primary school (do you get the idea everything is very close to everything else?), the pastry from this tart crumbled like a sand castle and the sweet pear was at one with the frangipane inside.

Eating in Luang Prabang is inexpensive. Go to one of the fancier restaurants, and you're averaging about USD12 a head for about 3 shared dishes and a glass of wine. Eat on the streets and it's more like USD1.50 for a bowl of noodles. Life can be this good.


Anonymous said...

We know so little about Lao cuisine. Thanks for sharing this great post.

Hungry Female said...

Hi Ellie! It's a real melange of Thai/Vietnamese and Chinese food, and I would not have appreciated the subtle differences and their own specialities if I hadn't visited. Such a great little town, I would recommend a visit:-) Shu