Regular readers of my blog will know I’m a big fan of the work that Friends International http://www.tree-alliance.org/ do and that I have had delicious meals at all three of their restaurants in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh; Marum, Romdeng and Friends. I was delighted, therefore when I learned that they had just opened “Khaiphaen” restaurant in Luang Prabang, and even happier when my friends suggested we had dinner there.
As with their other restaurants, the menu is mostly made up of “tapas” style dishes meaning that the 3 of us could happily share 6 dishes between us, a great way to get a proper over view of the menu.
We started with a couple of vegetarian tapas, Crispy Tofu with Khaiphaen Salt and Spicy Green Mango Dip and the Khaiphaen (I told you it was delicious!) and Rice Sticks with Hmong Mushroom and Tomato Dips. Both of these were huge successes. The tofu was the soft variety that had been fried until slightly golden and then tossed in the Kaiphaen salt giving it a deep, umami rich flavor which worked really well with the zingy green mango dip.
The sticky rice cakes that were served with the Khaiphaen and spicy dips were also surprisingly tasty but both the Hmong mushroom and tomato dips were so good I ended up just eating them with my spoon. After the Khaiphaen at La Residence this was best that I had all trip and I especially liked the fact that it had clearly been fried to order.
Next up was the Lao Pork Sausage with Banana Pepper and Spring Onion Chutney, some Beer Lao Battered Fish and Chips with Mango Slaw and Lime – Dill Tartar Sauce and a portion of the River Fish and Monkey Mushroom Dumplings with Soy Bean and Peanut Dip.
The Laotian sausage was fantastic. Made with pork, onion, lemongrass and toasted rice they are a little bit similar to Sai Oua, the delicious Chiang Mai sausage that I enjoyed so much in Thailand, the main difference being that the versions I tried in Laodidn’t seem to have chili inside them, still they were equally delicious all the same.
The fish and chips were also impressive, the river fish used was nice and firm (bar fish maybe?) and not in the slightest bit “muddy” as river fish often is. The lime also made a tasty addition to the tartare sauce and its slight tartness was a good match to the mango slaw as well. The dumplings were great but couldn’t match the flavor of the ones that I tried at Jaan Bai the other month. Still it was a successful dish and i liked the unusual pairing of mushroom and fish.
As the desserts at Marum are so good I was insistent that we should try a dessert, after much debate we eventually settled on the Coconut and Pandan Pannacotta with Mango, Crispy Rice and Chilli Syrup. Whilst the Pannacotta didn’t have the requisite saucy wobble needed for this to be a great dessert, it was still a good combination of flavours and textures and a nice refreshing end to the night.
Dinner with drinks came in at under $20 per head and I spent about the same again in their small gift shop that sells ethically sourced souvenirs and presents along similar lines as the gifts they sell in the Cambodian restaurant shops. I really enjoyed our meal, if you are worried that there doesn’t seem to be much meat on the menu, don’t be! There is a lovely selection of dishes for the most vegetarian or carnivorous amongst us and I cannot imagine anyone not enjoying their meal there if everything was up to the same standards as our meal.
|Open Monday to Saturday
11am – 10:30pm
(kitchen closes at 9.30pm)100 Sisavang Vatana Road, Ban Wat Nong. Between the French Institute and the Mekong River.
|T +(856) 30 515 5221/71 254 135