Wild Frontiers Tour Leader Mark Steadman knows South East Asia very well and is a firm believer in seeking out authentic eating experiences rather than heading for the easiest touristy option. Below he talks about the food of Laos.
My favourite noodle soup restaurant (near Dara Market, Luang Prabang) – Keep it local and try out local noodle soup (‘fur’ – right) – vegetable or chicken. It comes with a plate of shrubbery and is situated on the corner opposite Dara market. Sit on little plasic stools beside the street – it's great fun. Click here to read my blog from a recent tour to read more about this fantastic culinary experience.
Tamarind (Luang Prabang – right) – Great authentic Lao cuisine and high quality food. The set menu is fantastic (120K includes a drink). It's pricey but possibly the best foodie experience in Laos.
Mekong Fish Café (Luang Prabang) – Great setting beside the river and delicious food such as Mekong fish in coconut, chicken in banana leaf, kaipan (river weed - tasty) and fresh veggie spring rolls.
Lao BBQ (Luang Prabang) – Located on the Mekong riverside, near the turning back up to the post office. Cost is 60K for all you can eat, including vegetables, fish and meat. It's a great local experience – they set up a BBQ/hotpot in the middle of table, get the stock bubbling and cook meat etc on a hot platter. There are plenty of side dips – you mix your own. Perfect with Lao beer – and plenty of napkins!
Phonavanh Restaurant (Luang Prabang) – A very local joint at the end of peninsular on the Mekong side. The restaurant's speciality is fish. It's a good lunch stop and you can sit by the river. The catfish soup is tasty but comes with bones, head etc so be warned! The fish salad comes with minced seasoned fish you wrap in lettuce with vegetables and sticky rice and they also offer fried chicken/vegetables. There’s a fair sprinkling of chilli so get a non-spicy set made if you can't stand the heat!
Dok Champa (Champasak) – A local restaurant beside the river which is a five minute drive from the River Resort. Very local, excellent tasty food with lao lao cocktails for a snip. Great laap (cooked ground meat – right) and fried fish.
Dok Champa (Don Khone Island) – Not particularly fancy but offers great food which is a notch above the usual island backpacker fare. They take their time though so definitely pre-order! They do superb fish Laap, chicken/ginger and steamed fish in banana.