Happy 2019 to all! This eatvestigator has notably been a missing quantity for some time in the recesses of South East Asia. This time our trip took us to the landlocked region of Luang Prabang in Laos, where we had the chance to savor the namesake Beerlao and partake in wholesome food at this establishment by the name of Khaiphaen. It was good enough that we returned twice in the span of 2 days.
Khaiphaen proudly states that it’s a social enterprise, aiming to provide employment and learning opportunities to young people from local tribes like the Hmong. We noticed they were eager to practice English and Chinese with various out-of-towners. The restaurant is quite spacious, containing both an al fresco area and indoors with much necessary air conditioning in the hot afternoons.
Without much further fanfare we jump right into the appetisers. First was the highly recommended Chargrilled Eggplant Dip with Baguette and Local Vegetables (30000KIP).
The raw eggplant was beyond fresh, and had the texture of crisp apples. The dip was a serenade of mushroom with peanut sauce which went really well on the baguette. Next was what seemed to be local variety momo, the River Fish and Monkey Mushroom Dumplings (52000KIP). It was very well balanced by the roasted soybean and peanut dip.
If there’s one dish that defines the national essence of Laos, it definitely has to be larb, which is typically a mixture of fermented minced meat and vegetables. The Chicken and Mint Laap with Roasted Squash, Spring Onions, Chili and Lime (40000KIP) was somewhat sanitized but nevertheless enjoyable and refreshing.
This was then followed by a splatter of mains. In the foreground were the Beer Lao Battered Fish and Chips (54000KIP). The fish was wonderfully battered and came complemented by papaya salad, a definite Laotian twist. On the left was the Lao Pork Sausages with a chutney consisting of spring onion (44000KIP). It wasn’t as meaty as imagined and was quite enjoyable.
A recurring theme were these seaweed crispies that are also found on top of the Khaiphaen and Rice Sticks with Tomato and Hmong Mushroom dips (36000KIP). The eatvestigator found this dish to be somewhat forgettable but the crisps were nice to chew on over Beerlao.
All in all, Khaiphaen does a fabulous job fusing local Lao ingredients with well known foreign dishes. You won’t go wrong dropping by if this is your first visit to Luang Prabang.
100 Sisavang Vatana Road, Ban Wat Nong.
Between the French Institute and the Mekong River.
Open Monday to Saturday
11am – 10:30pm