Food Guide to Luang Prabang, Laos: Secret Laotian Food Gems in Luang Prabang

Food Guide to Luang Prabang, Laos

World of Street Food City Guide

Luang Prabang, the holy city of Laotian Buddhism, home to the former Lao Royal Palace and a backpacker's paradise, is one of the most popular places to visit in the Lao PDR. It's also a great place to spend time if you love to eat. Here are some of the restaurants and dishes that you shouldn't miss in this quiet, colorful, and peaceful city.

Buddhist monks enjoying early morning iced coffee alongside the river in Luang Prabang, Laos
Buddhist monks enjoying early morning iced coffee alongside the river in Luang Prabang, Laos

What to eat in Luang Prabang, Laos

Papaya Salad Restaurant (Tim & Hum)

Papaya salad, Lao Sausage, and Fried chicken
Papaya salad, Lao Sausage, and Fried chicken

We absolutely love this shop! <3

This is a real secret gem of Lao food in Luang Prabang, and an authentic taste of Laos. 

We came back here many times for Tam Mak Houng (green papaya salad), which is a must-try Lao papaya salad. What makes it different is that Lao-style papaya salad uses pickled fish as their secret ingredient.

We ordered the tam mak houng, or Lao-style papaya salad. When we placed our order, the staff asked us for our preferred level of spiciness, which was really nice. It made this restaurant way more accessible for us.

Instead of the Thai-style shredded papaya, they used flat, thin slices of papaya, which made the dish even more crispy and fresh-tasting. The taste ended up being perfect. Each slice was coated in a sweet and savory sauce, and every bite was just a little bit spicy. In our opinion, this was the best papaya salad in Luang Prabang.

We also really recommend their signature Lao sausage and fried chicken. Both dishes are so tasty! Their secret is that they use a hot air fryer instead of soaking their pan in oil.

The result is a sausage that is very crispy from the outside but so soft inside. It is perfectly delicious, and does not need any sort of dipping sauce whatsoever.

Be sure to order sticky rice, as it is the most traditional way to enjoy your local Laotian food. This shop is really easy to find. It's clean, and the staff are very welcoming and friendly.

menu for Papaya Salad Restaurant (Tim & Hum), Luang Prabang, Laos
menu for Papaya Salad Restaurant (Tim & Hum), Luang Prabang, Laos

Price: $ (papaya salad 15.000 kip / sausage and chicken 40.000kip each / sticky rice 5.000 kip)


Papaya Salad Restaurant, Luang Prabang, Laos
Papaya Salad Restaurant

Nang Tang

Tam Mak Houng, Luang Prabang
Tam Mak Houng at Nang Tang, Luang Prabang

Another secret gem that I came across is Nang Tang.

We stumbled upon this place accidentally when we were exploring the town. Nam Tang is a local place that serves up an authentic taste of Laotian food. 

When we walked in, we were welcomed by the super friendly staff and the chef herself! We sat down and ordered some papaya salad (called Tam Mak Houng in Laos) with a medium level of spiciness, and sticky rice. 

Not so long after we ordered, our food came!

The first taste was already incredible! It was like a punch in the mouth... BOOM! (in a good way!). All the delicious flavors burst in the mouth with each bite. It was savory, sweet, and sour with a perfect spiciness level (for me). 

The secret ingredient of Tam Mak Houng is pickled fish. That's what make Lao papaya salad different from Thai papaya salad. It's actually really good. You really can't tell that there is pickled fish in your dish, but it definitely gives the papaya salad a very rich, umami sort of flavor.

To eat this dish properly, just take a thumb-sized serving of sticky rice in your hand and dip in in the dressing. Then, alternate your bites between papaya salad and sticky rice.

The portions are really big, and the price is super cheap. We came back here many times during our stay in Luang Prabang. Eventually, the chef remembered our faces! After the first two times, they knew how to make us a serving of papaya salad to our perfect level of spiciness without even asking. Highly recommended!

Nang Tang Restaurant menu, Luang Prabang, Laos
Nang Tang Restaurant menu, Luang Prabang, Laos

Price: $ (Papaya salad 10.000 kip / Sticky rice 5.000 kip)

Location: (they're not marked on google map)

Xieng Thong Noodle, Pork noodle with poached egg

Xieng Thong Noodle, Pork noodle with poach egg, luang prabang, laos
Xieng Thong Noodle, Pork noodle with poach egg

Another popular food that you can find anywhere in Laos is served at a noodle shop. We walked past this noodle shop when we were visiting the beautiful Xieng Thong Temple.

We could see that it was very popular (it was always crowded). One day, we decided to stop in and place an order. We ordered pork noodles with egg.

We were super excited to try it, as we saw that they had many good reviews in Lao, Thai, and English!.  At the first glance, we could tell it was going to be delicious. With that much fried garlic floating on top, what's not to like!?

The noodles were served nice and hot. The white, fat rice flour noodles were cooked in an almost udon-noodle type style. They were rich, thick, and chewy. The broth was thick but very clear, and was topped with deep-fried slices of garlic, tender sliced pork, and a poached egg to round off the dish.

the best pork and garlic noodles in Luang Prabang, Laos
the best pork and garlic noodles in Luang Prabang, Laos

This noodle soup was AMAZING!

The noodles were soft and chewy with a great burst of garlic flavor. The broth was savory and had a fantastic smell. We added a bit of the mashed ginger, fried Lao chili, and a slice of lime which were supplied as condiments on the table to increase the complexity of the soup's flavors.

We spend nearly a month in Luang Prabang, and we kept coming back here again and again. This ended up being our very favorite noodle shop in the whole town!

Note: make sure to use just a tiny bit of Lao chili... it can burn your mouth if you are not careful, and you will spit fire!

Price: $ (15.000 kip)

Location: Xieng Thong Noodle

Porridge or Lao Jok at Prachaniyom Coffee Shop

Porridge or Lao Jok at Prachaniyom Coffee Shop, Luang Prabang, Laos
Porridge or Lao Jok at Prachaniyom Coffee Shop, Luang Prabang, Laos

We woke up early many times to have breakfast here. Prachuap ended up becomming our favorite breakfast spot in Luang Prabang! This traditional porridge and noodle shop is located right along the river, so we can enjoy the amazing river views surrounded by the mountains as we eat our breafast bowls of jok, or rice porridge.

Jok is a type of boiled rice porridge that has been cooking since very early in the morning. It arrives quickly after your order it. A bowl is topped with a poached egg, crispy dried onion, cilantro, and shallots. The jok is already fantastic, but you can always add a drizzle of fish sauce, a sprinkle of chili powder, or a squeeze of fresh lime to taste.

We mixed everything up before we took our first bite. It was amazing! This savory porridge has small pieces of very soft pork that almost melt in the mouth. I especially like the crispy dried onions, as they really give a kick to this super filling breakfast. 

The portions were huge, and we could hardly finish a full bowl. You can also enjoy the patongo, or fried dough which is served alongside your porridge, however if you don't eat any, you won't be charged.

You should also order the Lao iced coffee here! It's richer and stronger than any other cafe that we have been to in Luang Prabang. As coffee lovers, we really love this brew, and the important thing (since we always travel on a budget) is that it is CHEAP!

Laotian coffee alongside the river in Luang Prabang, Laos
Laotian coffee alongside the river in Luang Prabang, Laos

Price: $ (8.000 kip each for porridge and coffee)

Location: Prachaniyom Coffee Shop

Banpa Restaurant

Another fine place to enjoy Laotian meals with a nice relaxing atmosphere is at this Laotian Restaurant which is actually owned by Thai expats in Luana Prabang. They make fantastic Laotian, Thai, and western food with a great price.

We went there at lunch time, and although it was a little crowded, we were seated almost immediately.

We ordered the papaya salad and Lao sausage (called sai-auo). It was super tasty, and had been adjusted to foreign tastes, making it a little less spicy and a little more sweet than is traditional. In fact, it reminded us a bit of Thai papaya salad.

The sausage was spicy and very savory, and was incredibly flavorful.

They also have a wide variety of international dishes with a great price.

Price: Papaya salad 15.000 kip/ Lao sausage 45.000 kip ($)

Location: Banpa Restaurant

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