Lao Cuisine with a Twist in Luang Prabang
Get a taste of history at the Manda de Laos restaurant among paddy-covered ponds in Luang Prabang.
Published on Jan 27, 2016
WHEN YOUR FAMILY IS THE SIZE OF a football club, you need an assistant coach to keep everyone in line. At home in Luang Prabang, Maman Phiew enlisted the help of her daughter Toune Sisouphanthavong in the kitchen to feed her 10-kid brood. In addition to the nuanced touch required to master traditional dishes like larb minced-meat salad, she taught Toune the scale of cooking for a dozen people each night, which is a bigger head count than you'll find at some of the boutique restaurants popping up in the region today.
Do-it-yourself larb. Courtesy of Manda de Laos.
So perhaps it was inevitable thatToune one day would open Manda de Laos restaurant, and share her mom's classic Laos dishes with the world. Food's not all that runs in the family; the property itself has been with them for generations, and so stunning are the three lotus ponds that cut through the lush green grounds that it was registered as a unesco World Heritage site back in 1995. The restaurant is the result of collaboration between Toune and Frederick Meyer, who helped create the award-winning Issaya Siamese Club in Bangkok, and Rodolphe Gay, who has worked with a handful of luxury hotel brands including Belmond and COMO. Expect an international standard of style, with outdoor seating overlooking the ponds and a magical sunset view over the blossoming lotuses, accompanied by old-school recipes that are hard to find elsewhere in Luang Prabang, like khou sin kwai, wok-fried buffalo flambéed with Lao Lao alcohol.
Outdoor seating overlooking the ponds. Courtesy of Manda de Laos.
"While daily life has changed in Laos and around the world," Toune says, "here at Manda de Laos we carry on the traditions and spirit of Maman Phiew, dedicated to sharing how one cooked and ate in the past." Lovingly, that is, and with a full house. 1 Ban That Luang, 10 Norrassan Rd.; +856 71 253 923.