Mango Mania: Iconic Views and Soothing Entrees

Running water, its soothing white noise comforts and welcomes. This is the sound that greets customers as they enter the sanctum sanctorum which is the uniqueness of Mango Mania.
Mango Mania is a U-shaped greenhouse that appears more mirage-like than edificial. At the base of the U, framed by two bright red wooden doors reminiscent of …

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Anthony Bourdain And James Syhabout On The Cuisine You Don’t Know – But Should

You’ve probably tasted Laotian flavors and not even realized it. Anthony Bourdain and chef James Syhabout want to change that. Syhabout is the force behind two Michelin-starred restaurants, Commis and sister eatery Hawker Fare, which focuses on the Laotian cuisine of his childhood. Bourdain is the host of the popular travel and food show “Parts Unknown.” He calls Hawker Fare one of the most important restaurants he’s ever visited.

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Lao Province Issues Banana Ban

Authorities in the northern Lao province of Bokeo suspended the operations of 18 Chinese-backed banana plantations after they discovered widespread violations of the regulations governing the use of agricultural chemicals, government officials told RFA’s Lao Service.
“It has been a problem for the environment as the Chinese companies destroy the environment with their heavy use of chemicals,” a provincial official told ….

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Minister Vows Action Against Out-of-date, Contaminated Foods

Action has been and will continue to be taken to prevent the sale of out-of-date and contaminated foods as well as the provision of unfair services that continue to surface, a minister told the National Assembly (NA) recently.
Minister of Industry and Commerce, Ms Khemmani Pholsena, warned those involved that they would face penalties in line with the relevant laws as she detailed measures to address the issues that continue to be….

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EU Bans Imports Of Vegetables Grown In Laos

The European Union (EU) has banned the import of four types of vegetables grown in Laos following its warning that the vegetables failed to meet safety standards, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
The EU has told Laos that the vegetables originating from the country were found to harbour diseases and chemical substances that exceeded the …..

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Laos To Boost Coffee Value With GI Certification

Laos is preparing to certify its homegrown coffee as a Geographical Indicator (GI) and as a member of the International Coffee Organisation (ICO).
The move will help to maintain the value of Lao coffee, after progressive price decreases over the past two years.
The Lao Coffee Association is consulting with government and private entities about the duties and …..

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Banana Plantation Study In Laos Shows Negative Impacts

The negative impacts from banana plantations in Laos could be outweighing the benefits.
Despite the fact that banana plantation investments have created job opportunities for local people, reduced labour migration, contributed to social activities and improved infrastructure they are also having negative impacts on people’s health and the environment.
The findings were outlined in a study undertaken by the institute in cooperation with the National University of Laos …..

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Laos Suspends Pork Imports To Protect Local Farmers

The Livestock and Fisheries Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has suspended the import of piglets and pork as Lao farmers are currently able to produce sufficient supply to meet domestic demand.
In its announcement, issued last month, the department said the domestic production of pork and piglets was sufficient for local consumption and there was even a surplus in …..

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Laos Sees Dramatic Increase In Retailers Selling Improved Cook Stoves

The roadsides leading out of the main cities in Lao PDR are lined with numerous small retail shops, which are mostly owned by women, offering a variety of locally-made products, among them a selection of ceramic cook stoves. A vast majority of households in Laos cook on these portable stoves, using wood or charcoal.
Most of these small family businesses along the roadsides sell about ….

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Top 10 Lao Dishes You Must Try !

In Laos, food is the most important activity throughout the day. In the local language, it is quite common for people to greet each other by immediately asking, “Have you eaten food?” (“Kin khao laeo bor?”). Food is often the topic of many conversations, especially when eating and sharing dishes between friends and family. Additionally, Lao people take great passion in sharing traditional dishes with curious travelers.
Lao people were originally ……

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New Law Promulgated To Regulate Alcoholic Beverages

A new law promulgated recently aims to better regulate alcoholic beverage businesses and their advertisements, hopefully preventing people from drinking to excess and lessening the resultant social and economic impacts.
According to Article 20 of the 26 page Law on Alcoholic Beverages, venues offering alcoholic beverages are not allowed to be located near healthcare and education centres, state offices, religious venues, embassies, public parks, opera houses, passenger vehicle stations, petrol stations, sports complexes and factories.
In addition, advertisements for alcoholic beverage products must not attempt to …..

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Chomp-a Food Delivery

Vientiane is notorious for its lack of addresses and bad directions and only a few restaurants in the city offer any form of delivery service. How many times have you wanted to order something different but ended up with a Thai style pizza for lack of other options?
Chomp-a is a brand new online food ordering service. Customers can order food from a range of restaurants around Vientiane delivered straight to their doors ! Delivery is 30,000 Kip set fee with no ……

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“Gout de France/Good France”: French Gastronomy Around The World

French gastronomy will be in the spotlight around the world on March 19 when the “Gout de France/Good France” evening rolls out in French restaurants and French embassies as 1,000 chefs prepare 1,000 dinners on five continents.
In Laos, many leaders are taking part in the operation, and gourmands will be able to sample the true flavours of French cuisine in Vientiane and Luang Prabang.
March 19 has been chosen as the day for the worldwide premiere of this …..

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Couleur d’Asie – Store, Restaurant, Tea House and Art Gallery

Couleur d’Asie has been open in it’s current form since mid-2014 and while many people we have spoken to have heard of the French influenced venue there seem to be very few who have actually visited.
The owner of the store, Vivian Inthavong, has called Vientiane her home for many years and her range of experience in style and interior design are clear from the moment you enter. Officially promoted as a ‘concept store’, Couleur d’Asie has a lot to offer: ….

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So What Exactly Is Sticky Rice, Anyway?

Sticky rice is one of those great joys of Asian cuisine that people love across the globe, but may not fully understand. What makes it sticky? How does it differ from regular white rice? Where does it come from and is it supposed to be that sticky?
As huge fans of glutinous rice, which is sticky rice’s formal name, we’re here to clear up a few things. For starters, sticky rice is distinct from common white rice; it’s not merely ….

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Lao Innovator In Rice Science Gets International Award

A Lao woman innovator in rice science, Dr Chay Bounphanousay, has received the 2014 Outstanding Alumni Award in Rice Crop Improvement at the 4th International Rice Congress (IRC) in October in Bangkok, Thailand.
Dr Chay got the award in recognition of her pioneering efforts in the conservation and characterisation of the unique rice germplasm of Laos.
She was involved in the collection and conservation of the ….

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Eating Clean In The Capital: Vientiane’s Best Organic Produce

Looking to be a more conscious consumer in Vientiane? Sabaidee Magazine guides you through some of the organic shops and products around town that can help you make your diet more environmentally and socially friendly, as well as healthy and delicious! For some general information about supporting organic producers in Laos visit ….

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Love Life Café: Home-Made Ice Cream, Cookies, Shakes, Paninis & Salads

There’s a charming little oasis in Vientiane that many of us visit to escape the doldrums of life…our little heaven of sorts where we get to learn to love life all over again. Tucked away at the end of Dongpalane, Love Life Ice Cream (or LLIC, as I conveniently call it) is the brainchild of cookie school teacher Fleur Varenne, a French-British transplant in Laos.
If you haven’t been to LLIC, get ready for a surprise. The ambience is bright, cheerful and ….

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Pizza Company To Open Third Branch At Dongdok

Pizza Company, a Thai franchise restaurant chain, plans to open another branch in Vientiane this year after achieving major business success over the past few years.
Express Group Laos, which runs the pizza outlets, told Vientiane Times that it planned to open its third branch and second Swensen’s ice cream franchise located at the National University of Laos’ Dongdok campus, aiming to attract young ……

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Makphet Restaurant Serves At New Location

Friends International announces the new location and trading hours of Award-Winning restaurant, Makphet in Vientiane, Laos. Now open 7 days a week !
Set in a French colonial building, Makphet is a family-friendly restaurant with a warm vibe. It features a spacious dining room and large garden for kids to play. The restaurant offers a mix of dining options; artisanal wood tables, cozy banquet seating, communal tables fashioned from reclaimed wood, and comfortable wooden chairs. An outdoor seating area in the lush garden is …..

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Spilling The Beans: Uncovering Vientiane’s Hidden Coffee Houses

The volcanic soil of the South around the Bolaven Plateau has made coffee one of Laos’ largest exports. Inside the country, a sophisticated coffee culture is growing. Sabaidee Magazine followed the beans to some of their lesser-known destinations in Vientiane, away from the daily grind.

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NA To Consider Law On Alcoholic Beverages

The Law on Alcoholic Beverage Control will be submitted to the National Assembly for consideration at the end of this year, aimed at reducing the rate of drinking related illness in the years to come.
The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with involved government, private and international organisations is drafting the law on alcohol control, which is expected to be presented to the assembly at the end of this year.
According to a survey conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Laos ranks number …..

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Eat Street: Exploring Vientiane’s Street Snack Hot Spots

From scrumptious sweets to deliciously charred meat-on-a-stick, each afternoon around dusk multitudes of food carts converge to Vientiane’s kerbsides peddling cheap and flavourful eats to the hungry masses.
Sabaidee Magazine explores downtown Vientiane’s street eat hubs, samples some tasty on-the-go fare, and meets a few of the friendly faces behind some of our favourite snacks….

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Kualao Restaurant: Serving Authentic Lao Food

It was a breezy Saturday evening and we found ourselves at the Thatdam red light area at the brink of dusk. We looked to our left and there stood a humble house that carried a silent yet majestic aura reminiscent of a past French colonial era that dared to refuse the winds of time.
While the exterior edifice of the restaurant was French in nature, the interior whispered soft Lao overtones. We were quite taken aback as we witnessed the French façade fade away as our vision gave way to the ….

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PM Urges City Market To Maintain Prices, Brace For Fire

Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong has advised traders at Khuadin Market in central Vientiane not to take an advantage of Lao New Year demand and increase prices as it will directly affect the livelihoods of local residents.
The advice came after the prime minister led high-ranking officials on a visit of Khuadin Market yesterday to discuss ways to regulate product prices during over Lao New Year.
“I have observed that product prices in Laos always go up during New Year but they never go down afterwards,” Mr Thongsing said. He said the seasonal hike in product prices always impacts the livelihoods of …..

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Explosions Rock Vientiane’s Biggest Marketplace

Explosions were rocking Lao capital Vientiane’s biggest marketplace, Thong Khan Kham after a fire started at approximately 7:40 p.m. yesterday.
One shopkeeper, who operates a curtain shop on the street outside Thong Khan Kham told Xinhua that the fire broke out from a corner of the marketplace before spreading quickly around 7:40 p.m. The shopkeeper believed that not many people were injured in the blaze as the market closed just over an hour earlier at 6:30 p.m.
The fire has knocked out power for surrounding areas and locals were evacuating the ….

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Connecting Cuisine And Culture

If you’re seeking an authentic local experience in a new city, sometimes you have to be willing to get your hands dirty – but when it’s all in the name of good food, the pleasure is all ours. Sabaidee Magazine joined a market tour and cooking class run by Lao cook Nouk through Lao Experiences Vientiane.
“Smells bad, looks bad, but tastes amazing!” declares Nouk Keoaloun, the owner of Lao Experiences Vientiane, and our guide for today’s market tour and cooking class, as she motions for me to sniff the bunch of greens …..

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Opportunity For Food Service Providers at VIS

Vientiane International School (VIS), the largest international school in Vientiane is currently reviewing their existing contract for food services.
Suitably qualified organizations and individuals are invited to submit details of their interest and capacity to provide services to the students, staff and community of VIS.
Interested parties are invited to attend an on-site briefing on Thursday 20th February 2014 at 3pm in the Sala Coffee Shop. To register for the briefing and to receive the information package, please contact …..

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Malaysia Fattest Country in Southeast Asia

Malaysians, besides being weighed down by obesity and diabetes, according to an Oxfam International report on worldwide food quality, also consumed food of poor nutritional diversity. The just released research by the UK-based poverty and disaster relief group ranked Malaysia 44th out of a list of 125 countries.
Malaysia has also been ranked the fattest country in Southeast Asia and the sixth in the Asia-Pacific Region. In Southeast Asia, Malaysia came in second behind Thailand, which ranked 42nd worldwide. Its neighbours, The Philippines (67th), …….

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Vientiane: Best Chinese Food Outside of China

Chinese businessmen taking advantage of Laos’ development boom are fueling demand for great, authentic regional cuisine.
Chinese businessmen arrive in Vientiane and many settle in the Chinese enclave just outside the city, Sanjiang Cheng (Three Rivers City). Here, they purchase Chinese goods, communicate in Mandarin and, of course, eat traditional Chinese food.
In other countries, Chinese food is heavily influenced by the host country’s native ingredients and preferences. In Laos, however, Chinese ingredients are often easy to acquire. These factors combine to make Vientiane one of the best places outside of China to sample China’s regional cuisines. You just have to know where to find it: …..

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Ever Wanted To Try A Beer Soft Ice Cream ?

The Chang Export Soft Serve as the company (Thai Beverage PLC) called it boast the freshness of Chang Beer that will satisfy the taste buds of beer lovers. I love Chang beer for its smoothness and creamy flavor, so I’m expecting this to taste like? Who knows until I get to try this out.
“Chang Export Soft Serve” beer ice cream can be enjoyed with three topping selections: almonds, chocolate chips, and caramel.
Those who want to consume their beer in the sweetest and creamiest way possible will have to visit ….

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Nam Phou: City Centre or Dumping Centre ?

Nam Phou, located in Vientiane’s city center, always has been a meeting place for local residents spending time relaxing and enjoying their free time. During French colonialism, the area was designed as a market before being developed into a fountain 50 years ago. One year ago, after being renovated, the Nam Phou fountain reopened to the public and international tourists.
Have you visited Nam Phou recently ? You will be surprised, guaranteed ! In every corner there are rubbish bags piling up and the public space is obstructed with metal structures for tents, wood and metal scrap. If that isn’t enough to scare of the visitors, the piled up chairs and tables (mostly all broken) will do the rest.
Before the redevelopment the Nam Phou was …..

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Parisien Café Vientiane

There is a new café & bakery in town … Parisien Café.
It’s the latest addition to the many coffee shops in Vientiane and for sure many Expats will try out Parisien Café as an alternative to Joma.
Parisien Café is large, offering lots of different kind of seating and the huge brick walls provide a cozy warm atmosphere. Very attractive is the display of the bakery products, offering a large variety of breads, pastries, cookies and muffins. Also on display are many delicious cakes and desserts.
I went for a Cappuccino (Kip 22,000) and a Custard …….

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Laos, Three Neighbours Pledge To Stop Dog Meat Trade

Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam are trying to save dogs, supposedly man’s best friend, from restaurants in Vietnam, where they have most favoured meat status.
The four governments agreed in principle to put an end to the trade in dogs for human consumption at a recent meeting in Hanoi, with a pledge to interdict the trafficking of canines from one country to another for the next five years.
The move, if successful, could save an estimate five million dogs from being slaughtered and eaten each year, according to …..

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Soho Si Muang – Pizzeria and Rotisserie

Soho Si Muang Pizzeria and Rotisserie is the new place to visit in town, especially if you are a pizza lover like me.
Soho Si Muang is managed by Van & Joseph, who have both been living for many years in Canada. They love sharing quality time with friends and family and combined with their passion for good food, they decided to move to Vientiane and open a Pizzeria and Rotisserie based on the same concept as seen in New York and Italy. Amir, the third Soho team member, is an experienced pizzaiolo who lived & worked for over 10 years in Italy.
As Soho Si Muang is located at J&C’s former office building, the entire J&C team assembled to taste Soho’s pizzas. We ordered ….

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Noodle House Vientiane

It’s my first time to write a review on a noodle shop, not because I don’t like pho or kao piak, but because I would feel strange writing about one of those side of the street shops where you sit on a stone bench and look into the begging eyes of a dog while trying to keep the flies away from your soup.
This review is different though, the Noodle House is a clean, stylish, fully air-conditioned restaurant, where clients are welcomed by friendly staff. The interior of Noodle House is very trendy & stylish (reminds me more of a bar than a noodle place), offering lots of space. The kitchen is open, so customers can actually watch the ……..

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New Organic Market Opens At Chao Fa Ngum Park

A new organic market opened at Chao Fa Ngum Park on Monday to respond to the increasing demand for healthy and safe agricultural products in the capital.
The opening ceremony was held on Monday evening at Chao Fa Ngum Park and saw many stalls displaying organic products that have passed quality control tests through Lao organic certifications. Organic products such as vegetables, fruits, rice, and artisan products were available for purchase.
The market will be open every ….

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Joma Bakery Café – That Luang

Did you know that there is a Joma III ? Honestly, I didn’t until yesterday …. I guess only a place like Joma can afford not advertising the opening of its new outlet 🙂
Joma That Luang features the same delicious menu as the other two Joma cafes in Vientiane, with a nice cozy ambiance. The That Luang outlet (or should I call it Joma III?), although smaller than the Namphou and Phonthan branches, offers the same comfortable sofas and their Wi-Fi is impressively fast.
This latest outlet will reinforce Joma being the first-choice lunch stop for many Expats living in Vientiane, especially with its location close to ….

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Laos Holds Finger-Lickin’ Taste Of Our Future

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has cooked up a possible solution to the global food crisis by encouraging people to eat more insects.
Flicking through their report will bring few surprises for Laotians who, along with people elsewhere in Asia, have been eating insects for as long as anyone can remember – either as snacks or as full-blown meals. But the FAO has also confirmed that bugs are highly nutritious, rich in protein, vitamins, fibre and minerals.
Among the healthier snacks consumed in Laos are a wide variety of grubs and bugs, usually fried in oil. The average Laotian knows exactly what can be eaten and what cannot, and at what time of year what particular insect Mother Nature will serve up in abundance – and on what sort of plant it likes to feed.
At this time of the year some of the most popular additions to the menu include ……

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Lao Organic Farm To Ink Export Deal

An exporter of organic vegetables and fruit, Pakxong Organic Farm, will again sign contracts with buyers from Thailand and the Middle East’s Halal Food Group within the next two weeks.
The 500 hectare organic farm in Pakxong district, Champassak province, grows bananas, pineapples, cabbage, asparagus, peppers, lettuce, onions, carrots, radishes, zucchini, potatoes, ginger, chayote, tamarind, coffee and tea.

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How To Detox After Holiday Binging

The holiday season is a time to bond with family and friends. But for many, it is also a time for overeating and weight gain.
So how can one get rid of all that junk from his system? Through detoxification, said raw food practitioner Margo. She said drinking lots of water and fresh fruit and vegetable juices, coupled with rest and exercise, will help flush all the salt, oil and alcohol out of the body.
“Our body is like a car. You bring it to a shop to clean it, the tubes and the pipes. It’s the same with our bodies. We drink fresh juices and…..

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Restaurant Xang Ngun: Vientiane’s New Silver Platter

“There is something very unique about this restaurant,” I told myself the first time I walked into Xang Ngun. The grey-coloured tapestry covered in black flowers. The black metallic wall covered with mirrors. The mirror-covered ceiling. The modern-looking black chairs sitting under beautiful black and white ceramic tables. And a stand-out-flashy red bar lies in back, protected by two silver elephants, or in Lao, two Xang Ngun. It is all quite baroque really.
After having tried different plates and hors d’oeuvres, I can truly say the food is just as unique as the restaurant’s design. Although the food is based on Thai and Lao cuisine, Arnaud Poire, the head-chef and partial-owner, has found a way to add his own special touch ….

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Lao Drinking Water Companies Reviewing Safety Standards Following Complaints

Lao drinking water companies are reviewing safety standards following a rash of complaints. Companies that sell bottled drinking water in the Lao capital Vientiane have pledged to upgrade the quality of their supplies following public complaints about safety standards in the industry and surprise government inspections on water production facilities.
During the September-October period, the Drinking Water Association in Vientiane received numerous complaints of unclean water in bottles consumers had purchased from local stores.

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Turkish Flavor In Vientiane: Restaurant Istanbul

When my buddy Ong suggested to have authentic Turkish food, I was actually surprised as I didn’t knew that such exists in Vientiane. The Istanbul Restaurant run by an elderly Turkish man who also happens to be the cook and cashier is located near to the Mekong River in the heart of Vientiane.
We were presented with well illustrated menus with pictures of Turkish food including descriptions. Having browsed the menu I noticed that there was lahmacun or Turkish pizza which I have never ever tried and a mouth watering list of doner kebab selections. In addition, there was even a page on the menu to cater for vegetarians comprising of falafel, imam bayildi, kizartma and pilav rice.
Ong recommended that I try the pita bread dipped in humus but since ……

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Berliner Bär Restaurant: Pork Knuckle, Sauerkraut and Paulaner Beer

With Germany winning the first 2 group matches of Euro 2012, I was quite ecstatic and impressed with anything German. Hence, this led to my craving for anything of German nature which subsequently led me to the Berliner Bär Pub for one of my dinners.
We decided to have a go at the Berlin curry wurst with potato salad and pork knuckle with French fries and sauerkraut. While awaiting our dinner we decided to also quench our thirst with German beer.
I did notice that the walls hardly displayed anything German unlike typical restaurants. Neither was there any German music or other paraphernalia. However, after a few sips of fine Paulaner beer they hardly made any difference as I was here to relish the triumph of Germany.
After both our dishes arrived I immediately tucked into the …..

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Via Via Has The Best Pizza In Vientiane: J&C Poll

Now it’s official: Via Via makes the best pizzas in Vientiane !
According to the J&C monthly poll for May/June, our readers declared Via Via’s pizza as the clear favorite, with 34% of the votes. Second place goes to Aria and third to Swedish Pizza … congratulation to all three winners !
Via Via is located on the corner of Quai Francois Ngin and the same street as La Banneton. See our review of Via Via Pizzeria here

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Dante & Da Vinci At Black Canyon Coffee

Following up on my previous article regarding the first establishment of the Black Canyon Coffee Restaurant in Laos , I recently took my dinner there. I was generally impressed with the interior and decorations within the premises. We were immediately whisked to a table for two and served by one of the many male waiters who immediately passed us the food and drinks menu right after we were seated.
The laminated menu are fully illustrated with all photos of soup, sandwiches, salads, spicy salads, appetizers, a la carte, curries/soups, noodles, pasta, steaks, rice dishes and there was even a section for Lao delights. Most items on offer have actual photographs and this did indeed titillate my taste buds prior to my dinner.

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Sabaidee Shabu Shabu

Conveniently located at the Samsenthai road, Sabaidee Shabu Shabu is a buffet restaurant where you can eat as much as you would like.
Most of the food comes to the customer through a conveyor belt with small plates carrying vegetables, fish and meat. The quality of the food on the conveyor belt is good and even the generally more expensive fish, seafood and shrimp is widely available.

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Chokdee – A Taste Of Belgium On The Mekong

I’ll come clean and say that I don’t have much familiarity with Belgian cuisine, but fortunately the general manager and chief investor in the cafe, Vincent Wirtgen, was there to take me on a culinary journey.

It doesn’t take long looking in from the street to see that the place is bustling with activity and an inviting warmly lit atmosphere with icons of Belgian popular culture and a view of the Mekong. What’s remarkable in this location is that the vast majority of his clientele are residents rather than travelers a fact that sets it apart from many establishments in the area.

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Nadao Brings Fine Dining to Pakse

Many Vientiane residents may still harbor fond memories of delicious three course meals at Nadao, the flashy French restaurant which served up many a business lunch and romantic dinner back in its Vientiane heyday. Unfortunately for Nadao, construction of the Prime Minister’s Office in Vientiane meant that the restaurant had to move elsewhere: and that turned out to be the rapidly growing city of Pakse. When you note the development going on in Pakse, it doesn’t seem a silly place for a runaway French restaurant. A trip to Pakse now offers plenty of choice for turgid tastebuds with two Indian restaurants, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, various bakeries and cafes and of course fine french cuisine at Nadao.

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Cafe Nomad Hiding Great Coffee

Cafe Nomad opened around June this year and so far the quiet little cafe tucked away near the Thai Consulate hasn’t made itself known to the wider community. But that’s the way owner Sanghyun Jung likes it. He doesn’t want hordes of people tromping around his artistic little Vientiane cafe; he seems to want to keep things on the down low and entertain a small but growing group of regulars who come for the coffee and stay for the brownies (and the free wi-fi).

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Wine 95 A Good Drop in Vientiane

Wine 95 is the newest wine bar in Vientiane and has opened up between Jazzy Brick and Jules Classic Bike Rentals. Coincidence? Not at all. Wine 95 is the latest creation of those behind Phimphone Market and Benoni Cafe as well as Vansom Wine Shop. The name is in celebration of the year that the owner first started his wine import business: 1995. Everything these guys do, they do well, and Wine 95 is no exception.

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Fuji The New Favourite Japanese in Vientiane

Fuji is the latest in a series of Thai restaurant chains to open a franchise in Laos. After much fanfare and an action-packed, star studded Grand Opening, I went to visit the restaurant last week to see what the fuss was all about. From the moment I walked in the door I found that it consistently and overwhelmingly exceeded expectations, from the first kimono-clad waitress to the last mouthful of lightning-fast sashimi.

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Rashmi’s Plaza Hotel

For a long time I would drive past the construction site of Rashmi’s Plaza Hotel every day watching the massive megalith slowly take form. Suddenly one day it opened, replete with flashing silver spirit houses guarding the front entrance and sparkling tower adorning the top. After often wondering what the interior would be like, J&C was lucky enough to receive a guided tour just last week.

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Empty Talat Sao Mall Officially Opens

When reading in the local newspaper that the Morning Market Talat Sao mall 2 was officially opened on Friday, 11 November 2011, I was curious to see for myself if the new mall would meet everybody’s high expectations.
Visiting the mall this Saturday, I was rather disappointed, as only a few stores on the first and second level of the mall are occupied; everything else is still vacant or under construction. The “official opening of a shopping mall still under construction” would have been more appropriate as a headline.
However, looking at it from a more positive angle, once the mall is complete and functional (meaning all stores are occupied and open to the public) it will definitely be “the” place to visit in Vientiane

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D*Mart: Your Vientiane Shopping Destination

A new shopping destination is set to open tomorrow right in the heart of Vientiane’s commercial shopping strip: Dongpalan Rd. D*Mart, the latest installment from the owners of the already successful Home Ideal, will bring together a supermarket and a fresh market in the same location for the first time. The site will also include a food court, souvenir stores, electrical appliance stores and retail fashion and cosmetic outlets.

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Via Via Pizzeria

One place that I overlooked for years and only recently came to know and love is Via Via. The atmosphere reminds me somewhat of Vang Vieng; busy and bustling, full of tourists and giving quick in-and-out service. Tables stretch from inside the restaurant all the way to the pavement outside and patrons are kept cool by standing fans. The pizza bases are made out back, but toppings and baking is done in the middle of the restaurant in full view of customers so you can literally watch your pizza being cooked.

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Restaurant L’Adresse: Your New Address for Fine Food

The new L’Adresse really is an address you’ll want to look up for your next night out. In complete contrast to the previous locale, the new design sees a more modern, casual dining space which is conducive to conversation rather than stifling it. Painted brick interior walls part at the kitchen where patrons may view the chef, Tinay, hard at work in what looks like a top-notch and professional kitchen.
Elsewhere wines are displayed in an interesting glass exhibit cooled by a very obvious A/C Unit and if you can’t find the massive menu then you probably need glasses. Table settings are stylish, with modish egg-chairs that are certainly unique but also extremely ……

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Weirdest Dinner in Vientiane, Guaranteed!

Pyongyang Restaurant is actually one of a chain of restaurants opening around Asia that are owned and run by the North Korean government. There are a myriad of rumours all over the internet surrounding the motives behind the restaurant chain, but I will leave this to your private research. Suffice to say, the place is very odd!

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Signing in at La Signature

The Ansara Hotel, built in 2010 but designed to look much older, has added its own allure to the already charming Wat Chan Lane, home to many colonial era buildings and a nighttime stroll along this laneway is a wonderful precursor to your upcoming meal. When you arrive at Ansara’s big double-doors, expect to be greeted by attentive staff who’ll guide you to your table at La Signature, the hotel’s French restaurant.

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Love Life Ice Cream – Soft Opening

Love Life Ice Cream is having its Soft Opening and I decided to give it a try …. and I certainly wasn’t disappointed! I went for a Vanilla & Chocolate ice cream in a big cone and enjoyed it until the last bite !

Love Life offers home-made ice cream, shakes and cookies. They are still testing and trying out new recipes and it seems that they really value the client’s feedback. Ice cream in a big cone is 12,000 kip, ice cream shakes (hard to find elsewhere in Vientiane) are 19,000-22,000 kip and fruit shakes are going for 12,000 kip.

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YoQueen Frozen Yoghurt

Going to YoQueen on Sunday afternoon, the shop was fully of young Lao people, but also some expats. The interior design is a fresh (and healthy) green, with comfortable indoor seating places, whilst the outdoor area featured small round tables and chairs. The perfect place to spend some time while enjoying a refreshing treat !

There is a large menu to choose from including Frozen Yoghurt “Original”, “Parfait”, “Green Tea”, “Smoothies” and “Shaved Ice”. They all come with a large selection of toppings like Strawberry, Mango, Chocolate, Blueberry, Mixed Fruit, Kiwi, Peach, and many more

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Patu Xay Cafe

Often forgotten when people wrack their brains as to where to eat, Patuxay Cafe opened its first outlet on Sibounheung Road last year and it has been the restaurant of choice for many a business lunch ever since.

The cafe serves a wonderful variety of sandwiches, salads, cakes and other baked goods and their coffee is very nice, as is their broad range of fruit shakes, smoothies and juices.

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L’Atmosphere French Restaurant

Expect the unexpected when visiting Vientiane’s new L’atmosphere French restaurant; this is a very interesting place indeed. At first glance L’Atmosphere looks incredibly makeshift, like it was plonked together over a weekend and furnished with chairs and tables that fell off the back of a truck. Then, upon second glance…

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Lao Experiences Cooking Class

I have long wished for some kind of cultural experience that could be had within the city limits, so I was excited to learn about a new half day cooking class called “Lao Experiences”.

The Lao Experience begins at 9:30 when you meet at Full Moon Cafe for pick up and a scenic ride out to the cooking school, which is on the Mekong in the Thaduea area. The cooking instruction starts at 10 am and the class concludes at 1, with 1:30 drop off back at Full Moon Cafe.

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Benoni Cafe

As if by providence, shortly after our survey results showed Pimphone Market to have the best coffee in town, the owners of the market’s coffee shop extended the cafe from a small corner in the market to the full upstairs floor.
The area that formally housed Chez Phillipe (who has now opened Bistro 22 opposite the Catholic church) is now the latest coffee shop in town – ‘Benoni’ – which has become a new meeting point for expats and locals alike.

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Common Grounds Cafe

Common Grounds Cafe and Bakery is a newly opened cafe located in the middle of town on the road leading to Senglao DVD between Inter City Hotel and La Gondola. I visited it in the morning last week and even then it was attracting quite a few customers, mainly tourists, but also one expat mother who let her kids loose on the indoor playground.

A word that came to mind upon my first impression of the place was ‘jomesque’: because it bears a huge resemblance to the original and still dominant Lao cafe chain.

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Gac or Momordic Cochinchinnensis or Wonder Fruit

This fruit is common in Southeast-Asia and is used both as medicine and food. Research has confirmed that the beta-carotene (vitamin A) in the fruit is highly bioavailable and is even more than in carrots.

Usually people open the fruit and take out the red flesh that sticks on the the coin size seeds. It is actually pretty tasteless, so usually people mix it with rice or juice.

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I-Beam Tapas Bar

Everywhere I travel lately I just can’t stop running into bars selling tapas. These little ‘mini-dishes’ seem to be taking the world by storm. They’re enjoyed particularly by those (like me) who like to have a graze on multiple plates alongside a drink.

Tapas is actually the name of a wide variety of appetizers, or snacks, in Spanish cuisine. They may be served warm or cold and are served per order. In many bars around the world, the tapas model has evolved into an entirely new cuisine. Think of it like international dim-sum that goes well with a drink.

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Say Amen to Good Ramen

Whilst there are a growing number of Japanese restaurants in Vientiane, Ramen fans will be pleased to know that there is now a restaurant devoted entirely to Ramen! Newly opened Sagano Ramen and Cafe is situated above Xayoh Grill House opposite the cultural hall.

Sagano is in its opening week and most definitely going strong. I went there during the lunch rush and found the place crammed with patrons waiting to try their first bowl.

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Serving Up Street Food

Looking to try some real authentic Lao street food? There’s no better way to find it than to wander up and down the night market at Dalat 450 Pi (four hundred and fifty years market).
This market features endless stalls selling all kinds of delicious and very fresh street food. As soon as you arrive you’ll be hit with a barrage of spicy scents and can literally follow your nose to the usual Lao fare such as

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Do You Like Nem Neung?

Nem Neung (sometimes spelled Nam Neuang or Nam Nuong) is a refreshing dish of Vietnamese origin that combines fresh salad, white rice noodles and pork sausages. Typically, local people in Laos will purchase their Nem Neung at a shop and take it back home to enjoy together.
A relatively new shop on Thadeua Rd at KM3, however, has a very clean restaurant where people have begun eating-in.

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Spice Up Your Life

Do you love South Asian food? If so, you can always indulge yourself at one of the many Indian restaurants dotted around Laos, but if you ever thought of actually cooking Butter Chicken or Tikka Massala at home, you may be hard pressed to find ingredients such as cardamom pods, ghee or tomato passata at ordinary minimarts in Vientiane. So, where to find specialised South Asian spices

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Ban Moon Restaurant

Ban Moon Restaurant and Beer Garden is a true-blue Aussie ‘home-style’ restaurant set in the garden terrace of Barry and his wife’s Vientiane home.
As you walk in you will be greeted by Barry with a nod and a handshake and ushered to your seat for possibly the coldest beer in Laos. And this is what makes the place so great; it’s comfort food in a comfortable setting.

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Best Minimarts

Whilst many Vientiane residents eagerly await the proposed supermarket soon to open at the new morning market shopping mall, many will likely continue to frequent the various minimarts dotted around the city that stock imported goods catering to foreign tastes. Most expats soon get a feel for where to buy what, but there are a number of other minimarts which are fairly unassuming from the outside which actually stock a fair amount of imported goods. So which are the best?

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Nice Buns!

If you love “sweet bread” as much as some, check out this bakery just before the roundabout on Dongpalan Rd (near the ACLEDA bank). They have all kinds of different buns; some with chocolate or tamarind fillings, some with coconut toppings and some with custard or red-bean fillings. All in all there are about 6 or 7 different bun varieties. One bun sells for just Kip 2,000 and if you purchase ten

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Big Savings at Big C

Many expats enjoy a day in Udon Thani combined with a shopping trip. The town offers a plethora of supermarket shopping venues with everything from corner stores to hypermarts but one venue often overlooked and undervalued is Big C. This Thai owned chain that now also operates in Vietnam has an outlet in Udon Thani quite unfortunately hidden behind an overpass. Neverthless, for the discerning shopper, Big C can turn out to be quite a good destination.

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