Foods and Drinks to try in Laos
There’s nothing quite extraordinary about Lao food other than the similarity it shares with its Thailand and Vietnam neighbors. If there’s a distinct food that can be called as very Lao it would be the sticky rice, which is the essence of what it means to be a Lao. In fact, Lao refer themselves as “luk khao niaow”, which can be translated as “children or descendants of sticky rice”.
So what are the food you can expect in Laos? Here are they:
1.Khao Poon/ Rice Vermicelli Soup- a go to chili and meat-based Lao noodle soup ladled on the cooked rice vermicelli and a bed of chopped up vegetables which can include shallots, spring onion, coriander, mint leaves and string beans, etc.
2.Sien Savanh/ Lao Beef Jerky- these are sundried beef strips made from beef flank steak which is good with Lao beer, sticky rice or simply as a snack. It is marinated with a mixture of garlic, sugar, salt, black pepper, sesame seed, fish sauce and ginger. Then, the strips are left in the sunlight to dry.
3.Egg Meal- typical breakfast meal in Laos consists of bread, egg (hard boiled, soft boiled, scrambled, sunny side up, fried,over easy, and other ways to cook an egg) and a Lao coffee.
4. Banana pancake– my second try of banana pancake. The first one was in Myanmar. I liked the combination of fresh banana fruit with the pancake served in syrup though.
5. Khao Jee/ Baguette sandwich– an evidence of French legacy in Laos especially in Vientiane. Almost in every street corner of Vientiane, one can find a vendor selling this French-Lao fusion. It is split in half and filled with lettuce, sliced tomatoes, carrot, onion and optional cheese, moo yor (pork lunchmeat), chopped ham and topped with pâté or chili sauce.
6. Shakes- tropical fruits are ubiquitous around Laos streets. After hours of walking under the hot weather, a sip of shake or a refreshing fruit juice is a must.
7.Beerlao- if in Myanmar, I loved their Burmese tea; in Laos, its their Beerlao. They say that the beer is based on jasmine khao kai noy rice. The one I tried , Beerlao Gold, has the comparable smooth and refined taste of Mexico’s Corona.
8.Kaipen (Fried Seaweed) with Jaew Bong- is one of the popular Lao snacks that you can find around. Kaipen is made of freshwater green algae, sundried into paper-thin sheets, then, peppered with sesame seeds.
9. Street foods/buffet- If you are in Luang Prabang traveling on a budget, you can try Lao street foods tucked into a narrow alley at the end of the market. As soon as the night market is set up, so as these food stalls.
10. Khao niao – steamed glutinous rice. Popularly known as “sticky rice”. This type of rice is usually kept in a bamboo basket and is shared among all diners. Different ingredients such as coconut milk and red beans can be added to make the rice into a sweet dessert.
11. Khao khua or khao phat – Laotian-styled fried rice. I don’t know but every time I visit an Asian country, I can’t help it but try fried rice: Chinese fried rice, Indoneisia’s Nasi Goreng, etc. But one thing why I like this Lao fried rice better is the quality of its rice. It’s more sticky and moist.
12. Yaw dip – a type of spring roll made with rice paper, vermicelli, lettuce, and various fillings including shrimp. It’s usually eaten with peanut sauce or Laotian sweet sauce. Known as Gỏi cuốn in Vietnam.
13.Lao Coffee- I bought several Lao coffee as souvenirs. Although I prefer this coffee cold than hot.It’s really strong coffee.
14. Fruits- if shakes and fruit juices are sold in all places of Laos, so as the fresh fruits. The sauces available can be deceiving such as this red dip which looks like a tajin in Mexico, which is a mixture of lemon, chili and salt. Yes, it tastes almost like tajin except that is also contains sugar!!! So,I suggest you to first sample its dips as you might not like it in the end.
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