During our trip to Laos, we ate twice at Khop Chai Deu in Vientiane. According to their website, Khop Chai Deu, meaning thank you in Lao, is set in the old French colonial villa that has been renovated and carefully preserved to retain its charm and beauty.
Of course we ate from the Lao menu, both times.
Something I became a little obsessed with during our trip – deep fried river weed (from the Mekong), sprinkled with sesame seeds and chili. Totally addictive and a great alternative to chips and dip!!
Deep fried insects. These were not on the menu the first time we ate here but fortunately (!) they were the second time. Ahem… I can’t tell you what they tasted like since I draw the line at eating stuff like this unless I am on Fear Factor or Survivor and am winning $1 million… Neil and our travel companions Sue and Rick were pleasantly surprised.
Green papaya salad, served with deep fried buffalo skin. Not so keen on the buffalo skin and this salad was ordered “four chili style” by Mr Fear Factor himself, Neil. Uh yeah. His tummy was not a happy camper the next day. Subsequent to this meal, Neil started ordering food less spicy which worked better for us all!
We ate a LOT of laap in Laos and this was amongst the best. According to Wikipedia, “laap is the national dish of Laos and its popularity has spread to Northeastern Thailand, where the cuisine is heavily influenced by Laos. It is quite common to see this popular meat salad served at Lao and Thai restaurants. Also spelled larb, larp, laab is a type of meat salad. It is most often made with chicken, beef, pork of fish and flavoured with fish sauce and lime juice.
The meat can be either raw or cooked; it is minced and mixed with chili and mint and, optionally, assorted vegetables. Roughly ground toasted rice (kao kua) is also a very important component of the dish. The dish is served at room temperature and usually with a serving of sticky rice as is customary in Laos.”
I would highly recommend a trip to Khop Chai Deu if you are ever in Vientiane. Lao purists might argue that it’s Lao food for Westerners but hey, that’s what we are. Our guide, married to a Lao woman, makes a point of visiting each time he’s in Vientiane. We thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere and the food so for me that’s enough reason to recommend.