One thing that is close to my heart from Laos is their food. The mixture of French, Vietnamese, and Thai influence resulted in the fresh, astringent, and sometimes spicy taste of Lao dishes. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to a few Southeast Asian countries (three to go!) and I’d dare say Laos has one of the best food in the region. Like… it’s so good I’d come back just for the food. It doesn’t help my waistline either, with the fact that, Beer Lao tastes fantastic. Despite the short time I spent in there, I am happy to recommend these places for when you visit Laos.
Khop Chai Deu, Vientiane
Dinner for two with beer: US$30-40
Khop Chai Deu has been serving loyal patrons since 1998. Fancy some spring rolls? Khop Chai Deu serves the best spring rolls (a friend who visited Vientiane not long ago agreed with me) and has a great selection of local dishes. We only had the chance to visit this restaurant twice and both times were amazing.
Must try: vegetable spring rolls set, fried noodle, Laotian sausages (pork), and if this is your first time in Asia: sautéed morning glory. Yums! Beer Lao is available in a jug of 1 L for about US$2.5.
Also try: Tamarind, Luang Prabang (Traditional Lao food platter to try for US$4). Read my friend’s review on Tamarind here.
Manda de Laos, Luang Prabang
Dinner for two with wine: US$90-110
Manda de Laos at Maison Dalabua hotel is about 2 km from the Old Quarter. It offers a serene dining experience surrounded by a beautiful lotus pond. The service were impeccable (one of the friendliest bunch I met in Laos). The menu consists of a five-star fusion of Asian and local dishes, refined cocktails and rosé. As the sun goes down, more tables were filled with happy clientele.
To get here, catch a tuk tuk and ask your driver to pick you up. The location is a bit far from the main road so finding transport back will be a bit of a challenge. Try: chicken wings (a must!), pork ribs, and crispy duck with tamarind sauce.
Also try: L’Elephant (European Cuisine), Luang Prabang (dinner for two:US$60-70)
Zurich Bread Factory and Café, Luang Prabang
Brunch for two: US$20-25
Among Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos… the latter definitely has a lot more French feeling to its Southeast Asian counterparts. Without having to pay out for tickets to France… the golden, crusty, and warm and oh-so-inviting croissants and baguettes in Zurich Bread are definitely worth many visits back.
Located just right in the middle of the Old Quarter, the café is easily discovered. The classic red and white checkered table cloth along with the warmly lit ambience gives a little bit of homey feeling. Their coffee is heavenly and their chocolate croissants are to die for (I had too many myself). Of every eclairs and every pain au chocolate I tried in Luang Prabang – I still rate Zurich to have made the best ones.
also try: Joma Café (in Vientiane and Luang Prabang) and Le Bannetton, Luang Prabang (both are slightly lower priced than Zurich).