Mmmmh. Food in Laos. Until the last week of my time there, I kinda thought there was either nothing for me or simply nothing different than in Vietnam and Cambodia. Lao food is very much based on meat, and the fried rice / noodles with veggies can seriously get boring after a while. Tofu is not easy to find in the South… But then we arrived in the North, and it all changed: streetfood and vegan buffet in Vientiane, traditional and local restaurant willing to adapt any dish for us vegetarian in Vang Vieng, tribal cooking in Luang Namtha etc… The lao food catalogue may not be as big as its neighbors’, but it’s well worth a try!
The main courses:
A vegan twist of THE Lao dish: the laarp. It’s normally minced meat (here delicious fried tofu) with mint and chili. Mine was prepared with a mix of fresh herbs and was delicious, especially with some sticky rice! Laotians eat sticky rice more than steam rice, and it’s so good!
A second vegan version of the laarp, this time with firm tofu, even better than fried, just amazing.
Our jungle meal in Luang Namtha. Palm leaves as a table, you eat squating. One big ball of sticky rice in one hand, a smaller ball in the other one used to dip in different “jeh”. Here some seaweed and greens (and fish for flesh eaters).
A typical Akha meal: a huge portion of sticky rice with some “jeh” that we cooked ourselves with our guide in Luang Namtha: eggplants, wild jungle flowers mixed with eggs and sweet tomato sauce. It’s way too salty for me, but otherwise it was great.
Fried spring rolls and fried noodles in Tad Lo. Very hearty!
No idea what those things are called, but they come from a vegan buffet in Vientiane. Everything was surprising and tasty.
A beautiful dish in Vang Vieng: a Lao noodle soup, very spicy and tasty.
A street vegetarian buffet in the Luang Prabang night market. You pick everything and the cook fries it together. All of that for the equivalent of $1.
A wonderful idea, you pick your raw veggies, noodles and mushrooms, they make a soup out of it. Healthy meal for once, that’s not so easy in SE Asia!
Noodles and soups can be bought pre made in a plastic bag everywhere.
The typical Akha breakfast: sticky rice, extremely salty omelette and sweet tomato sauce. I didn’t think I could adjust to savory food in the morning but nope, no problem!
Those beautiful fresh spring rolls and their peanut sauce… What a wonderful delight.
The crazy veggies and fruits:
Eggplants are mostly small and round. They’re often green too and taste a lot sweeter than the one we know.
Any color, any shape of bananas!
The biggest durians ever in Vientiane.
Silvere’s birthday “cake”, fake Chinese oreos mainly. Nothing else was available in the jungle!
A banana and peanut butter pancake in Vang Vieng. They sell those pancakes everywhere in the street, they’re basically deep fried, but damn they’re good!
Coconut sticky rice, chocolate sauce, banana and peanut. It doesn’t get any better than that!
The typical sponge cakes and sesame snacks found on every market.
Delicious weird things made of coconut and spring onions.
Same as the above but only sweet.
Waffle outside, sweet bean paste inside, yum.
Pastries in Luang Prabang. As good as in France!
A pancake entirely made of coconut flakes.
A Hmong pistachio donut.
The Lao sweet soup with coconut milk. I cannot get enough of this!
Typical street snacks from Southern Laos, always involving sticky rice, in bamboo or banana leaf, sweet or savory.
Potato chips on the cob.
Fried spinach dumpling with rice flour.
Love in food. Black sticky rice with coconut.
Potato, sweet potato and taro chips.
Grilled sticky rice with egg on a stick, Silvere’s favorite.
Fruit shakes of course, cheap, refreshing and healthy. Mango and banana are our usual picks but there’s always 10 fruits to choose from.
The local beer! Quite good.
Lao coffee, one of the best in the world apparently. They drink it black. Many plantations are in the Bolaven.
And of course the ice version of the Lao coffee. Very good too.
The weird stuff:
I still don’t know if I liked it or not. All three are made of coconut. The big sesame ball had a small solid one inside, like a toy. The green one has the weirdest texture and the last one is just the weirdest looking food I had in a while.
Some fry snickers, Laotians fry bread.