You may think Laos cuisine is similar to that of Thailand or Vietnam and is generally overlooked. However, it is more than a mix of their neighbors’ food cultures. When coming to Laos, you will find their dishes is completely distinct and has its own signatures. The creativity and genuineness will definitely worth your full attention.
Sticky rice (Khao Niaw) you must try during Laos tours
This steamed sticky rice dish is the staple food of Laos. It accompanies all meals and is usually served in a cone-shaped woven basket. You have to knead the rice into a small ball then dip it in the sauce, then eat it with your hand.
Laos people believe that the black or purple sticky rice is healthier. Hence, “Khao gam” is a popular and delicious dessert made from purple sticky rice and coconut milk.
Baguette Sandwich (Khao Jee)
You can find this simple yet delicious dish on almost every street corner when you travel to Laos. The baguette is a part of the evident French legacy in the country. It will be cut in half then filled with pork liver pate, moo yor (pork lunchmeat), chopped ham, lettuce, shredded carrots, tomatoes and a good amount of chilly-garlic sauce.
Minced Meat Salad (Larb/Laab)
This traditional and national dish of Laos is a type of minced meat salad. The meat varies from pork, beef, to chicken, duck, and even fish. Though the locals like to eat it raw, the most popular version consists of stir-fried meat with fish sauce, lime juice, ground rice, and fresh herbs. The strong flavor of shallots, coriander, mint leaves, along with fermented fish sauce and chilly peppers will surely take your taste buds for a ride.
Green Papaya Salad (Tam Mak Hoong)
This sweet, sour, salty and hot salad pretty much features all of the signatures of the regions. The star of this dish is shredded unripe papaya, adding some palm sugar, lime juice, garlic, tomatoes, dried shrimp, chilly, and fish sauce. All of these ingredients will be pounded and mixed well together to make a bright, colorful and tasty salad.
Laos Noodle Soup (Khao Piak Sen)
This noodle is probably the most common of Lao food. The things you will see the most in Laos in the morning are countless shops, sidewalk stalls, or carts serving up Khao Piak. You can say this dish resembles the Vietnamese Banh canh or even Japanese Udon. The white flat rice noodles will be served with either beef, chicken, or pork, chopped coriander leaves, bean sprouts, garlic, sliced spring onion and some lime wedges.
Plan your Laos tour at: JEWELS OF LAOS 13D – 12N
Rice Vermicelli Soup (Khao Poon)
Another tasty noodle soup made with vermicelli noodles and coconut based soup. It also comes with a variety of different meat and a bed of chopped up vegetables. Don’t forget to add some fish sauce to enhance the rich hearty flavor from your bowl of noodles.
Lao Sausage (Sai Oua)
Laos-style sausages are an herb-infused meat with chopped pork and seasoned herbs. You may also find another variant known as Sour Laos Sausage (Som Moo), which is made from fermented raw pork and wrapped in green leaves. This dish is a fiery and exotic meat treat, and is often served with sticky rice, or makes a pleasant appetizer or snack.
Laos Beef Jerky (Sien Savannah)
This unique and savory snack is made with beef flank steak (sometimes they even use water buffalo meat), marinated in a mixture of garlic, fish sauce, ginger, sugar, salt and black pepper. The beef strips are then sun-dried and deep-fried and usually topped off with sesame seeds. It is often served with sticky rice and a special kind of tomato-based chili dip called (jaewmaaklen).
Khaipen (Fried Seaweed) with Jaew Bong
Khaipen is one of the most famous snacks in Luang Prabang. The freshwater green algae will be washed then sundried, pounded and pressed into thin sheets along with various kinds of vegetables. This rich in vitamins dish will be flash fried in a pan then peppered with sesame seeds. Add some jaew bong (chilly paste) and they are ready to serve!
Though not technically regarded as a dish, this drink is an essential companion of any meal in Laos. You can see it everywhere since this brand is the most famous one in the country. It is best to serve with ice in small glasses. Prepare some Beef Jerky or Fried Seaweed to snack with and you will have a real local experience.
These delicious, must-try Laos foods are made with simple, natural ingredients but can still impress the travelers. Nonetheless, your list of what to see in Laos definitely should include the French cuisine. There are plenty of French restaurants throughout the country with a more reasonable price than anywhere else. A foodie heaven is waiting for you.
Some Laos itineraries you might like: