I had ridden from Phonsavanh to Muang Kham one day as I was heading for the Tham Piu (Piu cave, see seperate tip), and felt a bit peckish so I decided on this place from a number in town predominantly because it was full of locals which I always take to be a good sign. My hunch wasn't misplaced, although I only had a light lunch there.
My meal was a bit of an odd mixture. I fancied a papaya salad which is somewhat of a speciality in the region and there was the usual "pet OK" ritual i.e. the white man can eat chillies OK. Generally, restaurants tend to tone down the cooking as they think foreigners can't take hot food - I love it. However, I also had one of those inexplicable cravings you get now and again and I wanted nothing more than a plate of chips (French fries as they are called here). The young waitress never batted an eyelid as I pointed out this somewhat odd combination from the English menu. I was rather surprised at this as I cannot believe they get many foreigners here.
The salad duly arrived and was indeed "pet", almost volcanically so but very tasty. I was beginning to think they had forgotten about the chips or something had got lost in translation but they eventually arrived so to add insult to injury for my poor digestive tract, I smothered them with chilli sace and wolfed down the lot. Excellently cooked and not at all greasy, they would have done an English chippy proud.
A bottle of Beer Lao (only one as I was driving) accompanied the whole repast perfectly, as it so often does here, and when the bill (check) was called for, it amounted to the usual paltry sum.
If you do happen to be passing through Muang Kham, I thoroughly recommend this place.
Favorite Dish: Papaya sald and French fries as described.
Although I did not stay here myslef, my guesthouse stopped serving breakfast pretty early so this became my usual morning haunt, and a good choice it was. At home I rarely eat breakfast but in Lao with the "early to bed, early to rise" maxim being applied, I found myself eating the morning meal on a regular basis. The Lao will almost invariably eat noodle soup first thing in the morning and whilst I do sometimes, on other occasions I fancy something a little more European.
Most places catering to travellers will offer a selection of set breakfasts, normally eggs of various types, possibly with ham or sausage and always accompanied by baguette, a lovely hangover of the French colonial era. Baguettes in Lao really are the equal of anything in France.
A filling breakfast of scrambled eggs, baguette and butter and a coffee was a very inexpensive 15,000 kip, or just over £1 sterling. Quite honestly, I rarely needed to eat lunch.
Favorite Dish: The Western breakfast as described.
I was looking for a place to eat on a Sunday evening, not very late, in Phonsavanh and finding a bit of difficulty. A couple of the places had closed very early and one waitress even informed me they had no rice! Quite unbelievable. In some desperation I went into the Oudomphone and asked if they were still open. Certainly, come in was the general tenor of the reply from the very nice lady who seemed to be in charge. They were just clearing away after what looked like it had been a fairly major banquet for about 20 people. The leftovers alone would have fed an army, amd I took it to be a good sign that the place was popular. I ordered sweet and sour pork with rice which was served quickly and was very tasty. There is not really very much more I can say except that this is a good option for an inexpensive and toothsome bite to eat.
Favorite Dish: Sweet and sour pork with rice.
I stumbled upon this place whilst visiting tho old capital of Xiengkhouang province, now normally called Muang Khoune and, to be honest, I picked it merely because it had an English speaking sign so I reckoned I could possibly get an English menu, and so it proved. Actually, the town does not seem overendowed with eateries compared to the normal situation in Lao where every second building houses some sort of food outlet.
Although there was an English menu the staff didn't speak any, but a bit of pointing brought the desired fried noodles with duck and very tasty they were too. Like so many places here, the kitchen was in full view of the diners, which I take to be a good sign anywhere in the world.
As a little aside, whilst waiting for my meal I was approached by a Lao looking man with what transpired to be his family who approcahed me and asked me in a broad Australian accent how I was enjoying my time in Lao. Although I shouldn't have been, I was somehat taken aback but he explained to me that ther is quite a sizeable Lao community in that country and many of them return to the "old country" on a regular basis.
Favorite Dish: The fried noodles with duck as above.
I know from long experience of travelling that the Indian people are very mercantile and seem to extend just about everywhere in search of business opportunities but I must admit I was slightly surprised to read here on VT of a very highly recommended Indian place in Phonsavanh. Let's be honest, it is a little off the beaten track even for the wandering Indians. As usual, the VT brigade had not let me doen and the recommendation was spot on. When I travel, I try to eat at different places every night to sample eveything but I had to return here a few times such was the quality of the food.
I got talking to the owner and his wife, a lovely couple originally from Tamil Nadu in the deep South of India and it seems that business is booming. Indeed, if there is a slight fault with this place, and it is slight indeed, it is that you can get a tour party in and there is no room for anyone else. One evening there were a large group of Germans there and they ahd literally taken the place over, it is not very big.
Any restaurant lives or dies, essentially, on it's food and the food here is superb. I live in an area of London with literally thousands of Indian restaurants (mostly actually Bangladeshi run) and I know a few good places but it is a long time since I had Indian food this good. For garlic overs, and I am one, I hereby issue a challenge. Try the garlic chicken and garlic naan bread at the same time, it really is overload of the "stinky rose". Just don't expect anyone to come near you for about three days!
Delightful as that was, my favourite was the chilli chicken whic was, to be honest, fairly explosive. Not for the fainthearted but I like spicy food and this was excellent. I apologise about the photo but I was ravenous and had the excellent pakora half devoured before I thought to take a photo. Sometimes even VT has to take second place to my stomach!
I really can think of nothing but good things to say about this place.
Favorite Dish: A difficult choice as everythng was great but, if forced, I would probably plump for the chilli chicken.
Family who runs it has been in Laos for over 15 years. The husband speaks decent English and may be able to help with what ever questions you may have about the area. The wife speaks almost no English, but is courteous and helpful nonetheless.
The restaurant has a few sidewalk tables as well as inside if the rains happen to be strong. On the walls, they have posted information, maps, and photographs of the area and northern Vietnam. While you are waiting for your meal, you can read up on the area, as well as purchase a few postcards from their displays if you haven't yet sent them home.
Open from 6am to 10pm.
Favorite Dish: Had dahl and heate palak among some other selections. Palak was good with mushrooms.
They even have both sweet and salt lassi.
Prices range from 7,000 kip to 20,000 kip depending on the dish.
Simmaly is centrally located next to the MAG and UXO visitor centers on the main road (HW13). There are plenty of tables both inside and on the extended sidewalk patio.
From what I saw, the family of three that runs the place is there everyday, all day. They open at 6am and close at 10pm.
The menu is roughly the same as other diners in town, but the portions are decent and the quality is good.
Favorite Dish: They serve everything from local dishes of Tam Yam to Laap.
The fried egg noodles and vegetables are great too.
Prices range from 10,000 kip to 25,000 kip depending on the dish.
Shophouse restaurant, with clean tables, a good menu and friendly service. As with many shophouse restaurants, the service is slow because they are only using one or two rings. If it is crowded when you arrive, expect a long wait.
The tables at the front can get dusty when cars pull up outside!
The restaurant does not deserve the rather condescending review in the Rough Guide (although it does concede that it is still one of the best in town)
Favorite Dish: Spicy papaya salad was excellent!
Good selection of Chinese (Sichuan) food as well.
The restaurant owner(?) promotes the traditional parasols, and you can buy them through the restaurant.
They have posters on the wall, giving information about what to see in town.