What exactly do people eat in Laos?

Most countries in Asia have their own specific cuisine, many of which are now known internationally. However, Lao cuisine is somewhat mysterious, even for a seasoned traveller like me.

Lao Coffee
Lao Coffee

One thing all visitors to Laos will notice is that people here drink a lot of coffee (just like in Vietnam). In fact, they say that some of the coffee plantations in southern Laos are among the finest places to harvest coffee beans in the whole of Asia. In Lao cuisine, this home-grown coffee is known as Cafe Pakxong, and it is drank throughout the day.

As you can imagine with its geographical location and its culinary influences, Laos has many noodle dishes included in its cuisine, including a version of Malay Laksa (not pictured) and its own Pho dish, called Feu. Laotians really love their noodle dishes, and even have a stir-fried version called Lard Na, which has a Chinese influence. Other dishes that are not based on noodles, are Mok Pa, which is steamed fish wrapped in a banana leaf, and Som Moo, a type of fermented pork that is often eaten as a street food or as an appetiser before meals. Perhaps the most famous Lao dish I have tried, though, is the Or Lam stew, which I sampled twice in Luang Prabang (it was the perfect tonic after a long and sweaty boat ride from Northern Thailand). Or Lam is a spicy stew made from buffalo meat (or chicken) and usually contains many spices and chilies, including galangal and the infamously fishy Padaek.

Lod Xong is the Lao version of Singapore's very own Cendol!
Lod Xong is the Lao version of Singapore’s very own Cendol!

I never did discover too many desserts in Laos, but I was interested in Lod Xong, which seemed to be the Lao version of Cendol. I wonder what Singaporeans and Indonesians would think about this familiar dessert if they tried this particular variety from Laos?

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