Favourite meal in Luang Prabang? By a landslide, a Lao lunch at Tamarind – an unassuming looking restaurant, cooking school and purveyor of Lao ingredients run by an Australian/Lao couple. The emphasis here is on authentic Lao food prepared with the freshest local produce, minus the more Thai-centric coconut and curry dishes that are sometimes mistaken for being Lao (read more on Lao cuisine here).
– The Lao dipping platter with khai pene in lieu of bread or chips – the dips provided a kaleidoscope of colour and Lao flavour, and included smoky eggplant, a hot chilli paste mixed with buffalo skin, a fresh tomato salsa and a coriander/garlic blend
– Stuffed lemongrass (oua si khai) – lemongrass stalks slitted and stuffed with a mixture of chicken, kaffir lime and coriander, then roasted, served with obligatory sticky rice
– Bamboo shoot soup (gaeng nor mai) – young bamboo shoots and a mountain of local vegetables in a rich, hearty, earthy, green soup (vitamin overload!)
– A namesake tamarind juice and a ginger/lemongrass juice – perfect antidotes to the heat and some of my all time favourite flavours
Every sip, bite and taste was amazing, with the fragrant chicken in lemongrass the overall winner. Am already regretting there wasn’t enough time to sample more of the menu or take a cooking class. Note to the travel gods: there’d better be a next time!
P.S. Total bill – in case you’re wondering – 109,000 Lao kip, just over US$13!
Tamarind, opp. Wat Nong, Luang Prabang, Laos