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.
Nadao is located near the new bridge in downtown Pakse in the corner of what seems to be an unnamed hotel. As you walk up the steps you’ll be welcomed by very friendly staff and shown to your table. The restaurant is decked out in the dark, old-school ‘indochina’ style preferred by many French restaurants in Laos; handicrafts and artifacts adorning wooden walls, heavy wooden tables and chairs and pottery items on display in cabinets. Whilst this might be going out of fashion in Vientiane, it still makes an impression in Pakse. And although dark, the surroundings do create a nice ambiance for nighttime meals.
The place attracts not only high-end tourists but also a lot of business customers and to remind you that he has your best interests at heart, owner and cuisiner Mr. Sayavouth will make regular stops at your table to check on you. Whilst make-or-break deals were going down around the room, I looked over the menu. As far as entrees go there’s a fair bit on offer but being a chilly night everyone in my party went for a soup, the soup of the day being pumpkin. This was pale in colour and slightly sweet as Asian pumpkins tend to be, but rich and creamy with just the right amount of croutons to add some crispy texture. It certainly warmed the belly.
Next came the mains, excellently presented. Because I can never resist dining on exotic animals I decided to try Nadao’s ostrich steak. This came with strong flavoured gratin and sauteed vegetables and a slightly peppery sauce. I must say I was extremely impressed with ostrich meat! Although obviously expertly prepared by the chef at Nadao, the meat itself differs from beef in that it is extremely tender with a delicate, almost sweet flavour which was well complimented by its sauce. The others in my party tried the lamb shank and the duck and were equally impressed. Dessert, also well presented, included a dark chocolate melloux which was nice and moist in the centre and a bright yellow passion-fruit sorbet.
Nadao, now in Pakse, still lives up to its much-lauded reputation as one of the best fine dining spots in all of Laos. Whilst residents and visitors are spoiled for choice in Vientiane and Luang Prabang, it’s good to see that the south can also make its mark with some truly epic epicure. You can find Nadao here on google maps or contact the restaurant by phone on +856 20 55551988, +856 31 255558.