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08 November 2009

Local Lao Food in Vientiane

By David

My Ventiane food adventure

Lao food or Laos Food in general is pretty interesting to try. I had the pleasure of trying most of them while on my 9 day visit there. From local Lao hawker food to Lao restaurant food, I must say that it was quite an experience for me. Similar to Thailand and Vietnam cuisine, the Lao people also have a main staple of rice or sticky rice.

The first dish that I had on reaching my guesthouse hotel was the Chicken Laap. And I swear, this was the best Laap I have ever tasted considering that Thailand also has a similar dish and most of the local Thai restaurants in my country try to pull it off by claiming theirs are authentic and the best.

Next on the menu were some mini Lao deep fried spring rolls. Similar to the Vietnamese spring rolls, these were much tastier and the sweet chili sauce that came along with it was not as sweet as the ones you usually have. So, a thumbs up for the Lao Spring Rolls from me.

Talat Sao Shopping Center in Vientiane

While exploring the Talat Sao Shopping Mall in Vientiane, we had to try out some of the more modern looking restaurant cafes there. So just at the entrance facing the main post office, there was a nice cosy looking Lao Restaurant. Not to be confused, there is also a food court located inside the Talat Sao Shopping Center. This restaurant is facing the road.

Inside the Talat Sao Food Court, I did get a little greedy and ordered a plate of fried flat noodles. Looking very impressive with the banana flower by the side, I could not wait to dig my chop sticks into this Lao noodle dish. Sadly to my disappointment, this was totally off my taste. It was rather different from the normal Chinese noodles I usually have and I didn’t have a clue on how I was to eat that piece of banana flower. I ended up just sampling this noodle and gave it a miss.

Location of this restaurant:

Ground Floor of the Mall at Post Office Entrance.
Talat Sao Shoping Mall,
Vientiane


Khop Chai Deu Restaurant and Bar

Khop Chai Deu is the most popular place in Vientiane. Trust me, everyday I passed the place, it would be packed with people. From locals, foreigners, travelers and backpackers, this was the Hard Rock of Vientiane. No kidding, the crowds just keep pouring in and eventually I had to check out the place to see what was so special about this restaurant and bar.

We went for dinner at the Khop Chai Deu Restaurant and were greeted at the main entrance by some lovely Lao workers. They ushered us to an outdoor table for two and a menu was left with us. In dual languages, it was pretty easy to identify the dishes. They even had a plate of fried bugs on the menu but I gave that a pass. I ended up staying safe by ordering the burger and a good cold Lao Beer. I must say, the food was good, atmosphere and ambiance here is amazing. Check it out when you are in Vientiane, no regrets.

Address in Vientiane:

Khop Chai Deu Reataurant and Bar
54 Setthathirat Rd, Nam Phou, Vientiane, Lao P.D.R.
Tel: +856-21 251564
Catering Service: +856-20 5619107
Email: info@khopchaideu.com
Website: http://www.khopchaideu.com/

Random Local Lao Coffee Shop

Walking around Thanon Fa Ngum Street in Vientiane would pull some surprises when eating at the local coffee shops there. The street is a popular place where most tourist and travelers would wander around day or night. Mainly because most of the hotels and restaurants are located here. So exploring the street, we decided to try out one of the local coffee shops here.

They have outdoor tables where you can sit and watch people so we decided to sit there. The menu was pretty much easy with a lot of local Lao dishes and some Western dishes available. Obviously we went straight for the Lao food. Starting with some Lao raw spring rolls, these were very similar to the Vietnamese spring rolls. Tasted pretty nice too and the sauce that came along was quite tasty.

We then had the Lao Chicken Yellow Curry with sticky rice. This was done superbly as the taste of the yellow curry was really authentic. The flavours were simply awesome and it was not spicy. However, I still have not gotten use to eating sticky rice so I had a little but to compliment the curry and then ordered some plain white rice. So if you are exploring Vientiane, don’t forget to check out the local eateries at Thanon Fa Ngum Street which is along the Mekong River. This place is hard to miss in town.

One thing that stood out like a sore thumb would be the local Lao coffee. Looking like a plain cuppa, when you actually drink it, it is really powerful. Laos is well known for their coffee and this clearly showed it. In fact, they serve the coffee with condensed milk usually and I can never forget how strong the Lao local coffee is. Till today, I drink local Malaysian coffee and it is nothing compared to this. If you are a coffee lover, you have to try the Lao coffee in Vientiane and also in Luang Prabang.

Khambang Lao Food Restaurant in Vientiane

One of those nights while asking around with the locals on where we could get some real Lao authentic food and we were directed to this place called Khambang Lao Food Restaurant. Apparently more locals dine here an it was located in one of those roads where there was not much traffic. So even more, it looked really authentic. By the way, we walked here from town center.

At the Khambang Lao Food Restaurant, the people working there did not speak or understand a word of English so we were in for a good time here. Trying to communicate with them was hell as the menu was totally in the Lao language with some pictures. I think we must have spent a good 30 minutes trying to figure out the dishes and when we did, the food came pretty fast.

We had the famous Lao Beef Jerky which was a tad spicy and 3 types of vegetables. Also a bowl of soup served with plain white rice and some sticky rice. Seriously, I would recommend you bring someone local to help you if you plan to come here. The food was pretty good but I had no idea what we ordered besides the Lao Beef Jerky and rice.

Khambang Lao Food Restaurant
049 07 KhounboulomRd Watchan
Vientiane Cap.
LAOS
Tel: +856-21 2171 98
Mobile: +856-20 5324 147

My overall conclusion to Lao food, when you visit Vientiane, just go for it! The food there is simply amazing. If you think you have tried Thai food and found it nice, you have not tried Lao food.

I will be making a return visit to Laos once again in 2010 with Air Asia as it is easy an convenient. Thank you Air Asia for opening up this route.

For the full detailed posting, you can visit my travel blog as I was limited to posting pictures here.

Regards,
David