Food / Laos / Travel

Feasting in Luang Prabang

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A few days ago we received an email from food blogger extraordinaire Bryan at The Wandering Gourmand. His travel-foodie blog is stuffed with loads of great eats, drinks, and travel tips that take readers “on a food and drink adventure around the world.”

He’s re-tooled his blog for 2015 and as a kick-off he’s publishing a month-long Best Of The World series. Bryan said, “I asked some of the top travel, food, craft beer, and wine bloggers in the world what their favorite restaurant, bar, brewery, or winery was, and they answered!”

He was incredibly gracious to put us on his list, and we’re flattered to be included in such an elite group of bloggers and world travelers. Thanks Bryan! Be sure to check out his post for some fresh ideas on where in the world to eat.

With the incredible culinary diversity available around the world, it was impossible for us to pick exactly “The Best” because the meal isn’t just about the food, it’s also about the meal experience. But anytime we’re reminiscing about excellent meals we think back to Luang Prabang, Laos. Dig in and enjoy!

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The peninsula town of Luang Prabang is sandwiched between two rivers – the mighty Mekong and the lovely Nam Khan. Riverfront restaurants of all persuasions line both banks, all displaying their menus (complete with resident cat) for your perusal.

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The eateries offer everything from westernized burgers and spaghetti Bolognese to traditional Asian fare and Fusion Lao. And although the French were here for a long time, very little of their cuisine seems to remain – except for crispy baguettes.

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As newbies to Laos – and Lao food, we love to experiment, so I bet you can guess which one we went for. Yep, Fusion Lao. We’d heard about a cool little place called Tamarind that features “Mod-Lao” dishes as Lao-style tapas.

Since the temperature was hovering around 90°, James decided to try his first Beer Lao, described by the Bangkok Post as the “Dom Perignon of Asian Beers.” He gave it the big thumbs up. Terri went for the Lao-Lao Cocktail, a refreshing blend of honey, lime juice, and Lao-Lao – the potent local whisky brewed from rice. Wow – it packs a wallop!

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We started with a little sampler platter featuring four different dips with sticky rice (in the cute basket) and sesame-seaweed chips. The sticky rice was totally new to us. You pinch off a little morsel (it holds together in a ball), then put the dip on it. The dips were tomato salsa, smoked eggplant, spicy coriander, and chili paste with dried buffalo. Delicious.

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Our final taste sensation was Chicken-Stuffed Lemongrass, an amazingly inventive dish. A mixture of chicken and herbs is placed inside a stalk of lemongrass, then dipped in an egg batter and deep fried. Served with a ginger-peanut dipping sauce, it stole the show.

Needless to say, we came away totally sated and only $12 lighter. It was the perfect belated Valentine’s Day feast. And when the sun set we hit the Night Market for some of its famous, really cheap grub.

Bon Appétit,
Terri & James

50 thoughts on “Feasting in Luang Prabang

  1. It just so happens I’m planning a trip to Luang Prabang in March, so great timing! I will try to find this place. Any other suggestions? We’ll mostly be self-guided while we’re in town.

    • Brittany, you’re going to love LP. It’s a lovely small town with such a relaxed atmosphere.The combination of Buddhist temples and French colonial architecture is wonderfully unique. There’s a night market on the main street and local food vendors set up in a narrow, incredibly crowded alley just off the street. Most of the booths are buffets, so you can pick and choose what you want. This is a good option as well. There’s also a morning market that’s mostly for locals, but it’s a great place to wander about. We did a number of posts on LP, just search in our blog. Have a great time! ~James

    • Food photos are actually hit and miss for me. The lighting has to be just right, and luckily our table was on a lovely, small porch so we had perfect light for these shots. And of course, the presentation was very nice as well. ~James

    • Thanks Lia! Bryan’s blog is a joy – and he just quit his day job to work on it full time. Tamarind’s Fusion-Lao was mind bending – every time they brought out a new dish is was a visual feast … as well as delicious. If Luang Prabang is on your travel radar, you’ll love Tamarind and the incredible Night Market. 🙂 ~Terri

    • Bryan, it was a joy to participate in your Best in the World series. Thanks for including us – we had a great conversation last night over a glass of Kendall Jackson about all the cool restaurants we’ve enjoyed over the years. So little time … so many restaurants! Can’t wait to see what next week brings. All the best, Terri & James

  2. Terri & James, when I saw the chicken-stuffed lemongrass and the dining table mats, I knew instantly you went to Tamarind. I was so satisfied with the food and service that I ended up going there twice!

    • Tamarind really is an exceptional restaurant Bama. To find food of this quality at these prices is rare. And the ambience was also outstanding. It was fun watching the Jr. Monks walking along the river with their umbrellas and cellphones. ~James

  3. Congrats on being featured! The presentation of the food looks incredible. When i first started traveling I was shocked at the presence of cats in eating establishments. Now I am always reassured to see them knowing they are keeping the place free of smaller creatures I should not want running about. 🙂

    • As a health conscious nurse, you can imagine that in places like SE Asia what an absence of kitties mean when it comes to restaurants (and houses for that matter). Give me the meows any day. And all the photo gods were looking out for me on this day, because these must be some of the best food photos I’ve taken. Food is hard for me to photograph well. ~James

    • It was hard to choose between the wonderful riverside restaurants. The Mekong side had many more to choose from, but the Nam Khan side was much quieter. Did you visit the incredibly crowded alley of food vendors at the night market? ~James

      • We did visit there, and it was probably the most packed area we experienced in Luang Prabang. I remember grabbing skewers of chicken and beef along the side of the road. As we went in a little bit, we found this one restaurant that was a little away from all of the hubbub and the proprietor was pouring all of us free vodka. Good times indeed!

  4. “Terri went for the Lao-Lao Cocktail, a refreshing blend of honey, lime juice, and Lao-Lao – the potent local whisky brewed from rice. Wow – it packs a wallop!” So, did Terri get up and dance on the table? 🙂 –Curt

    • Thanks Shelley. Right before visiting LP we had been in Bangkok for 2 weeks, and what a nice, quiet, relaxing change of pace it was. If you ever go back, find this restaurant because it is excellent. ~James

    • Marie, Tamarind has to be one of the best restaurant experiences that we’ve had in a long time. It was the perfect combination of delicious, creative food, and magical ambience – and it was cheap to boot. ~James

  5. Ah, this brings to mind a plethora of tasty dishes we enjoyed in Luang Prabang! From a warm sticky rice & mango dessert (at a little place tucked away on the other side of a bamboo bridge), to chicken grilled on a stick (then wrapped in a banana leaf), the fare was delish. (I’ll leave out the tale of the mysterious bug that caught up to us!) Did you feast at the night market too?

    • Tricia, we did feast at the night market, on a couple of occasions. We found the narrow, jam-packed alley with all the buffets. It was a great place to get safe-to-eat veggies. As to bugs, I’m not sure, but LP could have been the place I picked up my second case of Dengue Fever. It was either here or Bali. ~James

      • James, that bustling alleyway sounds like the same place where we enjoyed the fresh veggies and grilled chicken. We suspect we picked up a bug there too, but can’t be sure. Your second case of Dengue? My goodness! I heard that’s extremely painful.

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