Very Traditional Lao Papaya Salad from Luang Prabang

Delicious Tam Mak Houng (Lao papaya salad), Luang Prabang

by Nang Tang

traditional lao-style papaya salad luang prabang laos
Tam Mak Houng or Lao Papaya Salad

Here is another secret gem in Luang Prabang, Laos for you! I stumbled upon this small local papaya salad restaurant accidentally when I was exploring the town. The food here is very traditional, and the restaurant is an old family-run shop. As soon as I approached, I received a very friendly and warm welcoming smile from the chef. I sat down and ordered a plate of Lao papaya salad (called Tam Mak Houng in Laos) with medium spiciness, and sticky rice. As we sat, we could watch the woman making our papaya salad - mashing up all of the ingredients in a big bowl. Not so long after I ordered, my food was ready! YES! Let's give it a try.

how to make papaya salad

With my first bite; BOOM! All the delicious flavors burst in my mouth. This dish is sweet, sour, and perfectly spicy.

One secret ingredient of Tam Mak Houng is pickled fish. This is one ingredient that makes Laotian-style papaya salad differ from the papaya salad that you'll find in Thailand. It's actually really good. If I didn't know, I don't think I would even be able to tell that there was pickle fish in my dish, BUT it definitely gives this papaya salad a unique scent and taste. It's one thing that makes this particular papaya salad so unique and different from what you may have tried before.

making papaya salad the traditional way in Luang Prabang, Laos
mixing papaya  salad in a bowl

To properly eat papaya salad, pinch a thumb-sized ball of sticky rice in your hand, and dip in in the dressing. I love how big the portion is - it's plenty for two people to share, especially with a side of sticky rice. It's also very cheap! A lot of restaurants in Luang Prabang are really just for tourists, and prices can be quite high... higher than in Vietnam or Thailand. This restaurant, however, is very reasonably priced. I came back here again a few days later since it was so good, and the owner remembered me and make me the same perfect level of spiciness without even having to ask. Highly recommended!

where to eat papaya salad in luang prabang, laos
where to eat papaya salad and sticky rice in Luang Prabang

Nang Tang traditional papaya salad restaurant in Luang Prabang

  • Price: Papaya salad 10.000 kip / Sticky rice 5.000 kip
  • Location: (They're not marked on Google Maps,but you'll find this shop around here on this map link. It's located just across the road from the local school.)
  • Menu: This restaurant only sells a few dishes. Besides the papaya salad and sticky rice, they also make a few different types of noodle soup.

menu for lao food in Luang Prabang
papaya salad menu in Luang Prabang