Laos – eating and drinking in Vientiane

To be honest I nearly didn’t come to Vientiane as it doesn’t seem to have much going for it, certainly in comparison to Luang Prabang. However I felt bad about not visiting the capital of Laos so I came for a couple of nights before heading back to Bangkok. I had a couple of fun experiences in the end though, which made it worthwhile…

My map of Vientiane is here.

Soukvimarn Cuisine Lao (Intermediate A), 133 Chanthakhoummarn Rd, Chanthabouly district, ວຽງຈັນ 01000,

I came to this excellent restaurant for lunch at the suggestion of my friend Aki.

I can’t remember what we had exactly but I’m guessing it was a chicken salad made with wonderfully fresh and flavoursome ingredients.

And they do a good rendition of Chicken Laap, the national dish.

I do remember however that it was really good and I wanted to try a lot more things from the menu, but time and belly space didn’t allow unfortunately.

Pho Zap2 Thatdam (Elementary B), Rue Phai Nam

As a big lover of noodle soups I was intrigued to try Lao Feuhr, the Laotian version of Vietnamese Pho. Pho Zap is reputed to make the best in town.

Lao Feuhr differs from Pho in that the stock is usually made from pork bones and the noodles are served with pork or chicken rather than beef which is expensive in Laos.

Pho Zap’s version is topped with pork meat and the pork stock features star anise and cinnamon. Fresh herbs, bean sprouts and lime are added to the bowl. Raw green beans, lettuce and whole chilies are dipped in Jeow and eaten separately.

Both these eateries are very near That Dam, an ancient stupa that the Lao believe is the home of the city’s guardian spirit, a seven-headed water Naga.

A few other bits and pieces caught my eye in the area.

La Terrasse (Intermediate B), Th, Rue Nokeokoummane, ວຽງຈັນ

This French restaurant was a favourite of my friend Bev who used to live and work in Vientiane a few years back. She used to come for a steak or a burger and fries as a change from sticky rice. I followed her lead and had a steak with peppercorn sauce and chips which was just what I needed at that point in time.

This next place however was a bit of an eyeopener…

Bor Pen Nyang Bar (Intermediate A), Quai Fa Ngum Street, the riverfront street

I stumbled across this place by accident when I was walking along the riverfront and heard the loud music coming from the top floor of a building, so I went to investigate.

The scene that greeted me was like a bar in a Vietnam war film with lots of local bar girls carousing with men from all over. Not sure if they were working or whether they just like to party but it made for a very sleazy atmosphere. It’s a big place and you can eat as well as drink here but the focus of the room was around the pool table where some talented players, of both genders, were getting their hustle on. Some serious pool-playing skills were on display.

I put my name down on the waiting list by letting the waiter know I wanted a game. I waited for an hour before I got a game which I spent having an interesting chat with a retired British teacher about the life of an ex-pat in Laos. A teacher’s pension goes a long way here apparently. I played two games, won one, lost one, and had my Margarita pinched fairly early on. An edgy, seedy place, just how I like it!

There is one more thing you could do in Vientiane…

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