As you stroll through the night markets in Luang Prabang, Laos a variety of delicious aromas emanate from street food stands that line the street. And if you weren’t brought up on an Asian palate, the choices of street food in Laos may overwhelm you.
That’s why I’ve decided to compile my top four street food favourites to help you make the most of Lao’s distinct culinary offerings.
Having grown up with a Laotian father and a Chinese mother, I’ve had my fair share of traditional Lao cuisine at home. But for some reason, up until my recent visit, I hadn’t realised that the dishes that I had grown up enjoying were actually every-day staples of a Lao diet.
It made my recent trip to Luang Prabang all the more exciting, getting to order off any menu a selection of my all-time favourite dishes which I would only ever get on special occasions, as each dish is normally hand-made from scratch by my dear grandmother.
So if you’re visiting, be sure to try…
1. Khao Nom Kok
Khao Nom Kok, or coconut pancakes, are bite-sized treats that are surprisingly moreish. Made from coconut cream, sugar and rice flour poured over a piping hot cast iron pan, these delightful treats are best when they are golden brown on the outside and moist and delicious on the inside. Make sure you get to a stall early as street vendors often sell out quickly.
2. Khao Piak Sen
Made from chicken broth, chewy rice noodles and topped with shredded chicken, shallots, spring onions, deep fried garlic and a squeeze of lime — this flavoursome rice noodle soup is commonly served as a breakfast item in Laotian households. What makes this dish so popular is that it is light enough to give you a good start to the day, yet hearty enough to take you through to lunch without getting hungry. If you’re staying at a guest house, it’s likely you’ll find this soul-warming soup on the breakfast menu, otherwise head on out to the markets where they are sold in masses.
3. Mango sticky rice
I simply can’t get enough of Mango Sticky Rice pudding. The dish is exactly what it sounds like: rich coconut cream stirred into sticky rice topped with fresh mango. You can find this Lao dessert almost anywhere, as it is a favourite amongst locals and tourists alike. This dessert is best shared as the sticky rice is incredibly filling.
4. Mok Gai Lao
This Lao dish may not look #foodporn, but I can assure you it cannot be missed if you’re in town. Unique to the country, Mok Gai consists of boneless chicken breast steamed in a banana leaf with lemongrass, galangal and chilli. It has a strong umami taste and is best served with sticky rice.