Food in Laos is similar to northern Thai food, yet with its own unique twist. Rice is as popular here as in the rest of Asia, although in Laos sticky rice known as khao niaow is served instead of long grained rice. Sticky rice comes in bamboo containers and is eaten with your hands, usually dipped in a selection of spicy sauces.
The French influence in Laos can be found in the cuisine and baguettes filled with pâte known as khao jii pat-te are delicious at any time of the day, especially for breakfast served with kaafeh thung – rich and tasty Lao coffee. Lao coffee usually comes with a thick layer of condensed milk at the bottom, or black – kaafeh dam.
International food is widely available in tourist towns and in Vientiane, the country’s capital, where you will also find a great selection of gourmet French restaurants.
Here is a selection of popular Lao dishes to get your taste buds tingling.
Laap – the national dish, an extremely spicy salad made from minced meat, herbs, spices, lime juice and a LOT of chilli. This dish sometimes uses raw meat.
Tam maak hung – know as som tam in Thailand, this is fresh, spicy grated papaya salad, where the flavours are pounded with a mortar and pestle to combine them.
Foe – Vietnamese noodles, often served as a snack or at breakfast time.
Khai phaan – this Mekhong River weed is served in Luang Prabang as a delicious side dish.
Padeck – fish preserved with salt and stored for anything up to three years. Padeck is usually eaten with sticky rice.