Simple Eats – Luang Prabang

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Known in Thai as Khao Jii

Working in Luang Prabang a few weeks ago gave me ample time to taste and try the local laotian food native to Luang Prabang.  I felt that it was a melting pot of Thai, Laotian, Vietnamese and French Cuisines.  I think the Mekhong River helped spread the tradition around this area.  My friends told me that Vientiane cuisine is different to that of Luang Prabang, i guess we will have to wait and see.  Khao Jii or grilled sticky rice patty with brushed beaten egg and fish sauce is one of my absolute favorites.  It’s soft gooey insides with a savory salty crunchy bite coating.  The best part is that it’s offered slathered in a chilli paste, now many chilli pastes in Thailand is a sweet concoction which i’m not in favor off.  This is torpedo spicy.  Served on a banana leaf for 10 baht it was delicious.

At the walking street a cheerful food stall opened for business around 5 pm.  It’s the biggest stall at the beginning of the market (You cannot miss it)  selling Pho, Khao Soy and Noodles etc.  In Thailand Khao Soi is a Thick, creamy curry more islamic influenced with egg noodles and crispy egg noodles on top.  In Luang Prabang Khao Soi is a bean paste / tomatoeish / pork rib soup with noodles which is similiar to that of Chiang Mai’s Naam Ngeo which is similiar except we use fresh rice round noodles or flat wide noodles.  Usually served with fresh veggies, lime and spicy chilli paste it is one of my absolute favorites.  In Thailand we see it boiling in pots, but at this stall as they are serving so many varieties of noodles it seems like they only have 2 pots – one for boiling noodles and veggies and one for the stock.  So they have containers of pork ribs with the bean paste / tomato mixture and they mix with the stock.

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The hanging crispy things are not pork rind but buffalo rinds.  Light airy and delish!
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Fresh Veggie Basket.  Yum.
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Khao Soi – Luang Prabang Style

You choose your noodles, tear your garden herbs and veggies, squeeze some limes and dump crazy amounts of chillis and dig in.  It was around 80 baht which i thought was quite expensive for street food, but again this is Luang Prabang.

My fondness for Khao Soi is great as i had 4 bowls of if at different places.  This place seemed like a local restaurant – although there is no such thing because locals eat at home. They have Shrimp paste on the table complimentary eaten with fresh vegetables.  Thai use it to make a dip but the locals here eat it straight with fresh vegetables.  Quite lovely as i’m used to th epungent smell.

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Khao Soi at a local restaurant

Note that they all serve this noodle soup with fresh mint, limes and lettuce.  Really hearty and savory from the bean paste which is total different from miso which has a different feeling of saltiness to it.  The contrast with the tomatoish broth makes it a fresh sourness to it.

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This place serves their Khao Soi with Pork Rinds inside.  Broth was very savory.
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Plump Rice Grains – Soft and Hot

I have always preferred sticky rice over steamed rice i think its got a good texture and just feels more right.  The sticky rice at this roadside restaurant (only 4 tables) is nicely steamed.  Not tough when cooled.  Still soft and chewy.

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Sai Oua – Pork Sausage

The pork sausage is much blander than the ones in Northern Thailand but quite crispy casing, and juicy insides.  I feel that Laotian cuisine really relies on the tastes of the ingredients and not too much flavoring.  It will be considered bland for Thai tastes who which are so used to so much flavoring.

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Laotian Papaya Salad

Som Tam or papaya salad is one of my childhood favorites.  In Thailand the papaya is shaved in to small strands, in Luang Prabang it’s sliced and wide.  I like it because it had a nice texture and mouthfeel to it although the taste of the pradaek – fermented anchovies is not as strong as the ones in Thailand i feel.  They also have the addition of kapi – shrimp paste in their papaya salad.  I think it’s a taste that everyone can enjoy, a balance of sweet, savory, sour and spicy.  A well rounded dish, although i prefer extreme spicy and sour som tam.

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Naem – Fermented Pork Sausage

This is seriously to die for.  My whole team is still drooling for the grilled fermented pork sausage.  Hands down.  I have never had this good of a Naem before.  I usually dislike cooked Naem I prefer it still raw.  But this.  It’s juicy, slightly sour, very savory and the right balance of the pork rind to provide that teeth resistance when you bite into it.  Chew it together with a chilli and pop a hot sticky rice ball in your mouth.  It’s worth swiping your card, getting on air asia just for this Naem.  It’s been 3 weeks and everyone in the office is still dreaming and talking about this fresh fermented Porky Heaven.

Best Eats in Macau – Delicious Portugese Food at Boa Mesa!

Arriving in Macau and walking 30 minutes to find this quaint little homey restaurant (Walk up the hill it’s to your right) Take a picture first at the fountain and work up your appetite because it’s the best Portuguese food I’ve had ever.  Really….

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One of the best eats in Macau!

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While we perused the menu,  a bread basket came with 3 options, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, butter and marinated olives.  Usually restaurants only offer 1 but here everyone need not complain, there’s something for everyone.  Warning note here, don’t fill up on the bread, the food is excellent, it’s piping hot, yeasty, crunchy and soft.  It’s really good bread.  We each ate 3 before the food came, it really was that good.  It also arrived piping hot which already set the bar quite high for me, it’s amazing how some restaurants serve you cold crappy bread. (Note to readers: In Macau they charge you for everything so it’s not complimentary!!!) 

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               A nice variety of condiments!

bread                             olives

The first dish to come was the Octopus Salad.  It was fresh, olive oil and lemon balance was nice with the right salty and savory with the octopus.  Great technique, it was soft and with the right amount of chewy, i tried cooking octopus an my puppy buried hers right away! The onions weren’t spicy i think they soaked it in water first so it didn’t over power the delicate balance of flavors and the flat leaf parsley gave it that greeny veggie freshness.

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You also cannot come to a Portuguese place and not try their cured meats right? We ordered the house specialty the pata negro the equivalent of the iberico which is from the black pig.  Some of these cured hams that i tried if of a lower quality it’s like eating a ham dipped in salt. It didn’t mesh together which some of the best cured hams i tried have achieved, and the pale creaminess of the fat must help contribute to the meaty flavor and the texture which is firm yet soft but not mushy. This is what that quality looks like:

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And then the Clams Portuguese style arrived. The clams were plump, with delicious white wine sauce to mop up, it was garlicky deliciousness.  The sauce tasted clamy and garlicky without being salt overpowering at all, and of course we mopped up all the juices with our yummy bread. Sometimes the clams if not properly cooked or soaked turns the whole dish into a gritty salty broth.  Didn’t happen here!

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The Prawns Gamberi was huge prawns in an intense garlicky olive oil.  More bread mopping, the prawns were fresh and the meat was really tight you can hear the skins bursting when you bite into it, my sister spooned the oil right into the head and she squeezed all the juices onto the bread.  Just imagine the creamy, salty deliciousness!

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I think the key concepts in Roast Chicken is the crispy skin and soft meat.  Some places over cook the breast and under cook the thighs, being asian we prefer dark meat but here it was all good.  The salty charred skin and the moist meat was great on it’s own and then you dip it in the piri piri sauce (it’s a Portuguese chili sauce with hints of citrus, sour, heat and galicky herbs) then the flavours hit you all at once.  The chicken was like the canvas for this amazing sauce, the heat was fabulous I love spicy food and it was yummy without the feeling of oiliness at all!


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We were all so full by this time, there was only three of us and so far with the bread and all the plates that we cleaned we actually cringed when the Grilled Cod arrived.

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But oh it smelt so good, the fish, garlic, olive oil, the sear… Even the baked potato that came it it smelt divine.  You bite into the firm fish and you crunch through the garlic, and the spring onions, and the salt and the olive oil.  Really really good. The baked potato was dripping in oil and garlic and the skin was crunchy the the potato was baked until it was like mashed potatoes in it’s own skin.  Sigh…. No room for dessert.  We literally couldn’t move. A must try in Macau!

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Thank Goodness the bread was good, because it wasn’t free!!!

Boa Mesa

No. 16A Travessa de Dominigoes

Sennado Square, Macau