Although I am not too familiar with Laotian cuisine, my trip to Luang Prabang was an eye opener for its traditional food. I tried some of its many good restaurants serving local dishes. A stopover at Tamarind for its delicious yummy ping gai grilled marinated chicken served with sticky rice, al fresco luncheon in a lovely Lao Lao tropical garden tasting the traditional laap an appetizing minced chicken salad with sticky rice, a relaxing dinner in an colonial style building of Tamnak Lao while getting local with its delightful grilled riverweeds followed by Or Lam vegetable meat stew and of course a visit across the Nam Khan river using the hanging bamboo bridge and spend an afternoon at the popular Dyen Sabai while munching away savoury local snacks.
khai peng or Mekong riverweed is the traditional local snack. Nori style algae these crispy thin sheets of green riverweeds dipped in hot seasonal oil sprinkled with sesame seeds are served with jaew bong aromatic chilli dip specialty of Luang Prabang. I love this local chili paste made of chillies, palm sugar, garlic, kafir lime, galangal and dried buffalo skins. Delicious with sticky rice !
Like many Asian food a variety of spices and local herbs are used in their cooking and being curious I tried Or Lam the traditional meat stew with its unusual taste of sakhan the local spicy wood which gives a numbing sensations of the palate with a lingering bitter sweet aftertaste (somewhat similar to the sichuan pepper chillies) The stew is a mixture of eggplants, young bamboo shoots, pork, dried buffalo skins, phak tam ling local greens cooked with lemongrass, chillies and local spices.
Another typical northern Laos dish is the Laap or meat salad which can be made with chicken, duck or pork. My minced chicken laap flavoured with local herbs (chilli, mint, Asian basil) and fish sauce I had at Lao Lao garden was simply divine. As for drinks and being in a tropical climate, while many like to immerse themselves in the local beerlao, I love to quench my thirst with fresh tamarind juice. I also had a go with its many French style cafés while enjoying the Mekong vista. An afternoon pause at the Saffron café can be quite rewarding after cycling around town and for a real French style breads, is my daily morning visits to Le Banneton bakery … and here are some shots I took journeying into the land of northern Lao cuisine …