On a recent trip to Luang Prabang I stumbled upon the fantastic little Arthouse Cafe and just had to write about it. I was wandering around trying to decide where to eat for lunch when I noticed the cafe’s little signboard in the street. I was curious, so I walked in and sat down and ordered. The food came quickly and was fantastic!
As an expat living in Vientiane, I often have to make trips to Luang Prabang when friends and family visit because no trip to Laos would be complete without visitng the beautiful UNESCO heritage city. Although I moan about having to make the trip every couple of years (because I’ve seen every waterfall, palace and temple that the city has to offer), each time I return to Luang Prabang I am amazed all over again at it’s unique splendour. It really is like walking around a movie set for a colonial era film.
For me at least, its most redeeming feature is the food on offer! There’s comforting spin-offs from Vientiane such as the Luang Prabang Swedish Bakery and Joma which remind me that I’m still in Laos, whilst the number of French restaurants seems to quadruple every year. Of course there’s great Lao, Thai, Indian and Chinese food too. On my last trip I even noticed Japanese and Korean restaurants popping up. So, gastronomically speaking, Luang Prabang is doing very well for itself. It’s nice to have a whole host of new places to try whilst still being in the same country.
The Arthouse Cafe is inside a guesthouse owned by a Laoatian and a Canadian. Accordig to the menu, the cafe staff are all young and Lao except for the manager, Debra, who is “not young and not Lao but Lao in spirit and young at heart”. From my brief talks with her, this does seem to be the case. Debra managed Joma for five years and this becomes apparent when observing the Arthouse Cafe menu. It serves mainly sandwiches (BLT, roast chicken, grilled cheese, fish fillet) and baked goods (brownies, banana cakes, tamarind bars, cinnamon buns) some of which are almost the same as on the Joma menu, but much bigger servings. I couldn’t help but get the feeling that Debra must have contributed a lot of her own knowledge to the Joma menu in her time there. I had a tuna melt, and it was fantastic.
The coffee was nothing special but the cakes are a different story! I was in LPB for just a couple of nights but I think I ate the Arthouse chocolate fudge brownie at least three or four times! Just couldn’t stop myself! It was the perfect warm temperature, the perfect soft but not gooey consistency and the taste: a masterpiece of bakery.
The Arthouse Cafe Luang Prabang is accessible from both Sakkarine Road and Kingkitsarth Road on the Nam Khan Riverbank. This means every time you’re strolling either of these roads you just can’t help but pop in! If you take a table by the river you are also treated to quite a view!