Local Specialties healthy foods food guide foodie local cuisine Laos

Try These 11 Laotian Dishes For An Asian Culinary Journey To Remember - Updated 2020

best laotian dishes
Rofiq
Rofiq
Updated

There is nothing special without trying the local dishes when journeying to Laos. They might not be that popular compared to Thai or Vietnamese dishes. However, the bold flavor coming with the natural fragrance of Asian herbs should not be taken for granted – not to mention the unique spiciness and acidity. Here are 11 best Laotian dishes you must try while discovering the exotic landlocked country:

1. Klao Niaw (Lao sticky rice)

A post shared by Andrea Jacobs (@drejacobs) on Jul 23, 2016 at 4:23pm PDT


Klao Niaw is typical sticky rice served in a small bamboo woven basket. To eat this glutinous dish, you should roll it into a small ball by your hand, then dip the ball into some spicy sauces. In order for it to be perfect, the uncooked rice should go through an overnight soaking process. Sticky brown rice is another type of the dish, uniquely steamed in a bamboo tube.

To liven up the flavor the rice is sometimes cooked in coconut oil or with mango. Black or red beans may also be added. When the flavors blend in together with the rice’s natural sweetness the results can be utterly delightful. Klao Niaw is a staple Lao dish so it should easily be available where Laotian cuisine is served.

Klao Niaw

Estimated Price: 5,000 to 10,000 LAK (0.60 to 1.20 USD)

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Laos and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Laos

2. Khao Jee (Lao baguette sandwich)

A post shared by Tikzy Kittinon (@tiktoday) on May 14, 2016 at 7:48pm PDT


If you want to find French-style cuisine, you should try Khao Jee, the Lao baguette sandwich. It’s food that can be found in the street food stands through the entire region. The long bread is split in half and stuffed with various fillings such as grated carrot, lettuce, sliced tomatoes, chopped pork, cheese and the spicy chili sauce. Have it for both breakfast and lunch.

Walking down the streets of Vientiane, or any Laotian city or town, you’ll easily spot the glass cabinets of street vendors lined up with rows of baguettes. The sandwich is prepared fresh right before your eyes; ask for the paté to go along with the rest of the available fillings and prepare for an amazingly flavorful experience that hints of the region’s French colonial past.

Khao Jee

Estimated Price: 10,000 LAK (1.20 USD)

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Laos and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Laos

3. Larb (minced meat salad)

Larb
Source: Wikimedia

Larb is recognized as the national cuisine of Laos. It’s made of minced meat (fish, beef, chicken, pork or duck) and some aromatic seasonings such as fermented fish sauce, ground roasted rice, lime juice, and Laotian herbs. The local villagers usually serve the Larb raw, like fish Larb and duck Larb (the poultry’s blood is added to enhance the flavor).


Given the ingredients, you expect to munch through a complex array of flavors and textures, but the dish will be surprisingly balanced and unsurprisingly delicious. The roasted rice is a very important component and the meat may be served either cooked or raw. Larb goes very well with some klaw niao (sticky rice) and vegetables on the side.

Larb

Estimated Price: 20,000 LAK (2.50 USD)

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Laos and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Laos

4. Mok Pa (steamed fish)


Mok Pa is a sour and spicy dish made of steamed fresh water fish. Uniquely wrapped in banana leaves, the food is so tempting. Spices like kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, green onions, green chilies, fresh dill, fish sauce, and shrimp paste are also added. To enjoy the dish, you should grab a sticky rice ball to go with it.

Cooking the fish in banana leaf locks in and combines all the different flavors and gives the fish unbelievable melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Traditionally, Mok Pa is made using fresh water fish, usually filleted catfish. Order a bowl of sticky rice along with this dish. Grab some rice in your hand and use this to scoop up some of the fish and then take it straight up into your mouth, just as the Laotians do it.

Mok Pa

Estimated Price: 10,000 LAK (1.20 USD)

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Laos and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Laos

5. Yall Dib (fresh spring rolls)


Vietnam has lovely spring rolls, and so does Laos. The locals call the summer roll Yall Dib, one of the most favorite snacks in the country. Rice vermicelli noodles, fresh prawn and veggies, and various herbs are nicely wrapped in a thin rice paper. To eat the dish, just dip it into the hot chili sauce. Another version is the fried spring roll filled with meat.

Yall Dib

Estimated Price: 15,000 LAK (1.80 USD)

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Laos and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Laos

6. Khao Piak Sen (Lao noodle soup)

Khao Piak Sen
Source: Wikimedia

The noodle enthusiasts should try Khao Piak Sen, the Lao noodle soup. This staple food can be slurped any time, from breakfast to dinner. The noodle dish, served in a bowl, comes with either chicken or beef, as well as fresh herbs (basil and cilantro) and raw veggies (bean sprout and string beans), in clear hot broth. To make it more flavorful, you can add lime juice and chili oil.

Khao Piak Sen

Estimated Price: 10,000 LAK (1.20 USD)

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Laos and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Laos

7. Tam Mak Hoong (green papaya salad)

A post shared by Ngoc Hoa (@vijekeva) on Apr 14, 2017 at 9:17am PDT


Laos is also famous for the delicious salad called Tam Mak Hoong or green papaya salad. It’s very similar to Som Tam, the Thai papaya salad. The blend of flavor from sweet and sour, to spicy and salty is indeed worth a taste. The sliced unripe papaya is ground together with peanuts, chilies, lime juice, peanuts, and fish sauce in a mortar with the pestle.

Tam Mak Hoong

Estimated Price: 10,000 LAK (1.20 USD)

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Laos and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Laos

8. Sien Savanh (Lao beef jerky)

A post shared by Nick (@nkz2017) on Jan 7, 2017 at 4:08pm PST


If you are about to have beef jerky for your dinner, you better try Sien Savanh, the tasty Lao beef jerky dish. Before being cooked, the beef is marinated with oyster and dark soy sauce, palm sugar, pepper, and garlic. Then, it is dried under the hot sun for better flavor. You will find it sticky, chewy, and tasty. Add a small ball of sticky rice while enjoying the Sien Savanh.

Sien Savanh

Estimated Price: 10,000 LAK (1.20 USD)

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Laos and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Laos

9. Ping Kai (grilled chicken)


Another highlighted Laotian dish is the Ping Kai or grilled chicken. Before taking the cooking process over hot coals, the whole chicken is soaked in a marinade that includes garlic, black pepper, fish sauce, salt, and coriander root. To enjoy the food, sticky rice and raw veggies are the best companions.

Ping Kai

Estimated Price: 12,000 LAK (1.50 USD)

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Laos and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Laos

10. Sai Oua (Lao sausage)


Are you craving for delicious sausage in Laos? Try Sai Oua (the Lao sausage). The meaty texture from the minced pork and rich spices (galangal, lemon grass, chilies, and kaffir lime juice) go very well, creating a unique sensation while enjoying it. It’s so easy to find this recommended dish in the traditional markets or the roadsides. Don’t forget to dip it in Nam Cheo sauce for an amazing flavor.

Sai Oua

Estimated Price: 20,000 LAK (2.5 USD)

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Laos and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Laos

11. Or Lam (Laotian stew)

A post shared by L A O BITES (@laobites) on May 1, 2018 at 3:34pm PDT


Another favorite soupy dish to munch on in Laos is the Or Lam or Laotian stew. Native to Luang Prabang, the northern region in the country, this specialty has less spicy flavor and aromatic fragrance. It’s made of dried buffalo meat, beef, or chicken along with some spices such as lemon grass, chili, and coriander. Other veggies such as eggplant and beans are also added.

Or Lam

Estimated Price: 65,000 to 200,000 LAK (8 to 24 USD)

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Laos and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Laos

Laotian dishes deserve to get full attention

You may notice that most Laotian cuisine is fresh, healthy, and obviously tasty. The herbs, spices, and green veggies creating strong flavors and aromatic fragrance are the characters of the foods. Most of the meat is cooked by grilling or steaming, highly recommended for healthy meal enthusiasts.

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I am Rofiq from East Java, Indonesia. I am passionate about exploring new places, meeting new people, learning new languages and cultures. I always do solo traveling and backpacking since they are...Read more

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