Khop Chai Deu, Vientiane (Laos)

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.

It certainly is a beautiful setting – a multi-level restaurant in a well-preserved, charming colonial building decked out with pretty lanterns:

There’s a definite buzz, it’s the place to be. Clientele ranges from well-heeled Asian businessmen to backpackers to Western tourists seeking a little piece of home.

Of course we ate from the Lao menu, both times.

This is the ubiquitous chili dip served at the beginning of the Lao meal. We tried our hand at making it here and here. Served with sticky rice and Lao crudités.

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!

Beef laap.

Chicken laap.

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.

11 thoughts on “Khop Chai Deu, Vientiane (Laos)”

  1. I tried a scorpion in Beijing. It tasted like deep fried prawn head with loads of seasoning. If we do head to Laos, I will need to get details off you!

  2. Penny – oh Neil would definitely be into deep fried scorpion!!

    Jessie – there was a lot of food we've never heard of over this side of the world – that's what I love about travelling..

  3. Khop Chai Deu for another great post on traveling throughout Laos! Though we didn't check it out while we were in New Orleans, the Audubon Institute Bug Appetit cooks up bug dishes.

  4. I think I would try the deep fried bugs…I am always up for trying something atleast once. It is my motto for my four yr. old…I gotta follow it too.

  5. Hello,

    I have a classmate back in college who brought some fried locusts in school, those who tried it said it's good and has a nutty taste to it… I couldn't bring myself to try it though..

    Have a nice day! 🙂

  6. I would like to taste different foods from other countries but those fried insects are just off limits. No way am I going to eat that. Not even a scorpion unless someone serves it to me in a different without telling me that it's something else. If you go to China, you might those too. But at least there are interesting and flavorful foods. Interesting trip. I would love to travel again.

  7. High/Low – you're welcome! We're in NOLA next March so might have to check that out (well some of us!)

    Miranda – it's a good motto!

    Olive – I think "nutty" was one adjective used to describe them…

    Cathy – it wasn't as bad as in Panama but it taught him to trust the servers when they cautioned him against the spice…

    Divina – I might have eaten it had it been disguised as something else but they looked like insects so that was it for me!


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