Saturday, 28 May 2011

LAOS: Vientiane

Vientiane is the capital and the largest city of Laos and the French influence is omnipresent in the iconic Patuxai, a monument modelled on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, though built in the 1960's entirely from concrete incorporating traditional Lao motifs. There is not too much to blog about street food this time. Not that it doesn't exist but there is such a wealth of great international cuisine to sample in this city that we went slightly off brief. There's anything from Japanese okonomiyaki, Korean bbq, Swedish bakeries, Indochina fusion and of course great French food.

Iced tea with lemon and tamarind is slightly sour and very sweet but also very refreshing.

Laap or Larp is a Laotian minced meat salad (though this one is vegetarian made with seitan and thinly sliced wood ear mushroom)and is regarded as the national dish of Laos. It can be made with chicken, beef, pork, duck or even fish - raw or cooked - mixed with vegetables like green beans and flavoured with fish sauce, chilli and fresh herbs like mint. You eat this with sticky rice, the most important staple in Laotian cuisine.

This vendor sells a drink made of coconut water with slivers of young coconut flesh. Sooooo gooood! The other one in the background is the Laotian version of a drink/dessert that keeps following me throughout Southeast Asia: sweet coconutmilk with green pandan rice noodles. Same same, but different!

These sweets are made with sticky rice and there's pandan and soya flavour which is slightly salty-sweet. Glutinous rice or khao niao is cooked by soaking for several hours, steaming in a bamboo pot and then kneaded with a peadle to release the steam. The rice kernels with stick to themselves but not to your fingers.

I have been posting a lot of different waffles recently but this one is by far the most creative one. Penguins. We found them on Talat Sao morning market, which is actually more like a mall. You can choose between taro, cream, chocolate and pandan filling. Guess which one I went for?

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