• 03 . 03 . 11
  • On Laos cuisine, which is beautiful, if and when it arrives, even if it isn’t what you ordered, which is usually the case.

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Slow Cooker

A certain kind of person could get extremely frustrated ordering food in Laos.

To ensure you leave satisfied, make sure you are full as you are sitting down to dine. You should probably carry pre-food-snacks around with you to eat just before you intend to eat.

The service is universally friendly, but exceedingly slow. Different dishes come out at different times, as is customary with Asian food, but sometimes the lag is long enough that you wonder if they’ve forgotten entire dishes. Sometimes they do forget and it’s just easier to to let it go and share what you were lucky enough to obtain. The best way to approach a Laos meal therefore is to not be too hungry as you sit down.

Sometimes what comes out will be different from what was in the description, have a different kind of meat, be the wrong fruit, or just be plain wrong. Tuna Chicken turns into Tuna Cheese. Mango becomes Banana. Cucumber will appear. Rice will be missing. The food that comes out correctly is given to the wrong person in the group so often (and despite the fact that the server is the same person who took the order, albeit an hour ago – see above) that they must be doing it on purpose. I mean, on pure random chance they should get it right at least 50% of the time, surely?

Sometimes, and this is the strangest one, they under-bill. We’ve not been over-billed at all, but the opposite has happened 3 separate times and we’ve had to remind owners, vendors and servers that we’ve eaten more than is listed. Compared to the tuk-tuk drivers who try and take you for triple the price, restaurants are surprisingly lackadaisical about getting what’s theirs.

We’ve been in Laos for a week, but I’m struggling to remember a single meal where everything was correct.

Except of course that none of that matters because the food is almost universally excellent. But for a single case of dry duck (don’t order any meat that only appears in one dish on the menu!), the food has been sublime. Less spicy than Thai food and designed for eating with the fingers, Laos cuisine is modern alchemy. Taking a variety of truly disgusting individual tastes – shrimp paste, oyster sauce and tamarind to name a few – Laos chefs manage to conjure complex flavours that touch the whole palette.

If only it appeared as quickly as Abracadabra. Now that would be magic.

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