My first time in Laos in 2015 I ate a lot of rice soups and fruits. Culinary, it definitely wasn’t my highlight in Asia. Since Laos was colonised by France, until it won autonomy in 1949, the baguettes are part of the Laos culture. As a lover of the Asian cuisine I wasn’t fond of eating sandwiches every day. This time in 2019 I realised a big influence from Thailand. Some restaurant owners even named the Pad Thai, Pad Lao. I am grateful for this change. Yet, the TV and phones of the servants in most local restaurants are still more interesting than the customers. Like in many Asian countries they use fish or shrimp sauce in a lot of dishes. This might be difficult to omit in a non-vegetarian restaurant if you are vegetarian or vegan. Most hostels and guesthouses still don’t have a common kitchen. We usually had oatmeal with coconut milk, flaxseeds, peanuts, and banana for breakfast and then ate out.
- A meal in restaurant: 20’000-50’000 Kip
- Street food: 15’000-20’000 Kip
- A smoothie: 10’000 Kip in Luang Prabang / 5’000 Kip in Vang Vieng
- 15 small bananas: 5’000 Kip
Luang Prabang has a lot of expats who opened a restaurant and therefore the quality is much higher than in the rest of Laos. Vang Vieng is still a little sleepy. But between my first and second time in Laos I definitely see more options as a vegetarian or vegan to eat. Our favourite restaurants in Vientiane were:
- Jamil Zahid Indian and Pakistani Food. Great curries and bread for a very reasonable price.
- Vegetarian in the Golden Age restaurant. Offers from MO-FR a vegan lunch buffet for 32’000 Kip. I recommend being there at 12 pm.
Bouang Asian Eatery, Luang Prabang
A restaurant with a very cool interior design. The pumpkin red curry was the best we ate so far in Luang Prabang. Very delicious with lots of coconut milk and vegetables. The fast service has to be mentioned as well. I was very impressed. We also had a salad with tofu, rice noodles, lots of veggies, pumpkin seeds and peanuts. Chris had the Bouang Mess dessert with mango, passionfruit, yoghurt and merengue (vegetarian). I will definitely try this out soon since Chris said it is a great connection between sweet, sour and creamy. For a vegan yoghurt I usually stir probiotic capsules in coconut milk and let it sit in a dark, warm place for 24h. Very interesting from the menu sounds the gnocchi green curry. What an original idea 🙂 Unfortunately not vegan. But there will be more vegan options in the future 🙂
Novelty Café and Bar, Luang Prabang
I love that they reuse their bamboo straws. The open kitchen, the bookstand full of books, the imitated wooden floor, and the chill electronic music makes the place feel like in somebody’s living room. We started with a pineapple-apple-carrot-ginger juice which tasted great. I usually try to avoid drinking juices without any fibre since it spikes the insulin in a very short time very high. But since we were about to eat something it was fine. Of course we tried the vegan baguette with grilled eggplant, bell pepper, zucchini and hummus. We also had the couscous salad with olive oil. I really loved that I could taste the mint in it. And we shared the creamy pumpkin and carrot soup with homemade coconut milk. My favourite. Something I love to cook myself (excluded the pumpkin). I usually add ginger, chilli powder, turmeric, garlic and onion.
Phonheuang Café, Luang Prabang
Phonheuang Café is a local restaurant with a few vegan dishes. We usually ordered Bo Bun and the Fresh Spring Rolls. Our host took us there on our first evening. Since the portion was big, delicious and cheap we kept coming back.
Vela Café and Restaurant, Vang Vieng
Our favourite restaurant in Vang Vieng. We loved the Pad Lao. A noodle stir fry with peanuts, beansprouts, and tofu. We enjoyed the Tom Yum with vegetables and tofu. And we went back for the Vietnamese summer rolls with tofu. There is still improvement possible with the service. But when they realised that we were there, they were super nice and helpful. Value for money is top.
*With some restaurants I worked together. As always, opinion is mine.
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