If eating is your favorite activity, then Laos is the place you should definitely travel to give your senses a vacation. You know that you’ve met your kind of people when they greet you by asking you if you’ve eaten yet and the people of Laos do just that with their kin khao laeo bor! Even conversations at the dinner table with friends and family often revolve around food and that’s enough reason to pack your bags and your appetite and head off to this foodie’s paradise. Here are 10 dishes that every curious traveler needs to try to feel like there’s a party going on in his mouth:
1. Meat salad (Laap)
Chopped pieces of chicken, pork, beef, fish or duck mixed with some garlic and lime juice and herbs with rice is what this meat fantasy salad consists of. It’s protein rich and easy to cook nature is what makes it a classic at family get together. The meat is either ‘cooked’ by the acidic lime juice or served raw. The crushed rice grains in this fragrant dish take this salad to the very next level.
2. Steamed fish (Mok pa)
This fish dish looks just like a little wrapper present with fish steamed inside banana leaves that are wrapped up with bamboo strings. The amazing combination of kaffir leaves, lemon grass, green onions, fresh dill etc. add zing to this dish which is best served with some delicious sticky rice.
3. Baguettes (Khao Jee)
This crusty baguette is part of the French influenced cuisine in Laos and is one of the most common street foods available. So when you’re strolling on the streets, don’t forget to get a khao jee filled with some Vietnamese sausage, some slices of carrot and cucumber with a dash of chili sauce and mayo for the best breakfast or lunch ever.
4. Grilled chicken (Ping kai)
Imagine a whole succulent chicken marinated with garlic, black pepper, fish sauce and coriander root which is then cooked to perfection over hot coals. Makes your mouth water, doesn’t it? Pair this with some sticky rice and raw vegetables and you’ll fall in love with Laos more.
5. Spring Rolls (Yall Dib)
The spring rolls consist of fresh greens, noodles and meat packed into rice paper sheets, dipped in chili infused peanut sauce, can definitely send your senses on a vacation of its own. They are also known as summer roles and come in a vegetarian version too and is deep fried to the perfect crispiness.
Let loose in Laos with some beer lao which is the most favorite drink of tourists here. The variations included black brewed, roasted malt or lao gold which is all equally delicious and the perfect drink for your vacation.
7. Sausage (Sai Oua)
This meat treat is a fusion of minced pork, kaffir lime, lemongrass and chilies, pressed into skins and dried at roadsides in local markets. Served with dry chili dip and some sticky rice, this meaty sausage can take your taste buds to paradise.
8. Stew (Or Lam)
This veggie soup is infused with fragrant herbs and chili wood making it a perfect winter soup because of the smoky, peppery flavor it leaves on your tongue.
9. Coffee (kaa-feh)
The French brought coffee to Laos in the 1990’s and it became one of the largest agricultural exports in Laos. All the amazing coffee that is available in Thailand is the imported product from Laos. When you’re exploring the streets of Laos on a hot day, grab and iced coffee which is served in adorable plastic bags filled with ice and some delicious condensed milk.
10. Coconut rice pancakes (Kanom krok)
If you’re a dessert person, Laos definitely has a treat for you! Kanom krok is made of coconut milk, sticky rice, sugar and flour and looks like cute small pancakes when they are cooked in cast iron pans on the streets of Luang Prabang.
11. Whisky (Lao lao)
With 40% alcohol content in this rice whisky, it’s a popular drink in rural areas around Laos. This clear liquid is made from sticky rice and yeast balls which has a bready taste. If you are looking for a more adventurous drink then lao lao.
12. Noodle Soup (Khao Piak Sen)
This drool worthy noodle dish is a staple dish in Laos and is very similar to the Vietnamese pho. Commonly eaten as breakfast this tasty soup combines chicken or beef with broth and flat noodles flavored with various herbs. Garnished with bean sprouts, cilantro or chili oil, the khao piak sen is a must try when you’re in Laos because of its perfect combination of earthy spices.
13. French Food
Laos is also home to great French inspired food with its wines and Vietnamese crepes which should definitely be on your list of foods to try.