Laos: Sampling Laotian Cuisine in Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang is the capital of temples, but it’s also a great place to try some typical and traditional Laotian food. We did our best to get some variety in, eating some street food, at a local noodle-slinging restaurant, and at a fancier place that caters to travelers but serves traditional Laotian food.

When we saw/smelled this cute crepes cart, we knew we had to get something. And besides, crepes seemed like a pretty safe bet for street food.

The various flavored fillings were achieved with squirt bottles full of sweet syrups. I opted for the pandan flavor, having grown to love it in Thailand. Manor went with chocolate and nutella–a never fail combo.

The best part about these crepes? You got to choose your own adorable cardboard holder!

Both nights we were in Luang Prabang we ate dinner at the clearly local favorite restaurant, Atsalin on Th Wisunarat. We were drawn in by the cooks slinging fresh noodles in woks facing the sidewalk.

We both loved our noodle dishes, and even sampled some of the various condiments on each table.

For our one splurge, we decided to have lunch at the well-known restaurant, Tamarind, which is in most (if not all) guidebooks. They do a good job of explaining some of the traditional cuisine of Laos in clear English, and offer a nice sampling of these dishes, although at tourist’s prices. But without speaking the language, it would have been difficult to order these dishes elsewhere. They also offer cooking classes and sell a variety of gifts and foods to take home, like sauces, rice noodles, and dried seaweed.

At our lunch, we decided to start with a sampling of traditional Laos dips and relishes (called “jeow”), served with dried seaweed crackers, like those we had seen drying in the sun in Mong Ngoi.  We especially loved the jeow mak len, a kind of tomato salsa, and the jeow mak keua, an eggplant dip with chilies and coriander. And then there was the jeow bong, a relish involving water buffalo skin! Manor reported it was quite delicious.

For an entree, we shared steamed fish wrapped in a banana leaf, served with pickled vegetables. Because Laos is landlocked, all the seafood served here comes from the river.

And of course, we had to try one of their delicious juices, even though we knew we were over-paying! But I suppose it was worth it for the guaranteed lack of bacteria…

While we’re not likely to seek out Laotian food on our return to New York (if it is even possible to find!), I’m glad we got to sample another variety of Southeast Asian food.


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Filed under Food, Laos

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