LAOS – LUANG PRABANG STREET MARKET

Laos – Luang Prabang Street Market

Continuing our Asian street food adventures, on our first night in Luang Prabang The Hubby and I headed straight to the night market for dinner. We would visit again pretty much every night either to shop at the handicraft market, grab a fresh juice or beer and sometimes more food. The food section of the market was located on a side street past aisles of tents with souvenirs ranging from tea, to chopsticks to “Beerlao” t-shirts. Vendors grilled up fish and meats in the tight alleyway. On our first night, we walked the whole alley to get a sense of the offerings. We squeezed past food stalls jammed next to each other and communal tables filled with backpackers.

For many of the vendors, it was hard to tell when one ended and the next began. Charcoal grills were often shared and there were few seats to sit and eat. Most vendors sold iced beer, which was perfect with a grilled fish.

In general, I noticed 3 main types of vendors:
1. Grilled Meats – Ranging from fish to pork belly to sausages, the meat was often pre-cooked and finished up on the grill when ordered. I prefered the pork options (pork belly and sausage) to the fish. For the large fish, the meat was overcooked and for the smaller fish, there were a ton of bones.
2. Buffet Style – A selection of pre-cooked dishes were set up, including vegetables, fried rice, noodles and tofu. Priced by the plate ($5-$7/plate), diners piled their plates high with whatever they wanted for the low price. All of the contents was then warmed up in a hot wok. This was definitely the option with the best value and I liked the many vegetable dishes, but everything does get combined in the wok and our guide warned us that many vendors will sell the dishes over multiple nights until it sells out.
3. Hot Pot Noodles – Priced based on the number of ingredients chosen, we were given a basket to pick fresh vegetables, a choice of noodle and tofu/soy based products to be hot-potted in a broth. I really liked this type of stall, the ingredients were fresh and thoroughly cooked. Also, depending on the time of night, the broth used for boiling the vegetables grew in flavour and depth (just like hot pot!). This did mean that the bowls could get very spicy.

Apart from these types of vendors, there were also fresh fried dumplings, BBQ pork and sandwich stalls. To satisfy my sweet tooth, I also visited the crepe stalls and fresh fruit juice stands nightly. Compared to other night markets we visited during our Asian trip, the one in Luang Prabang was smaller and cozier, but with their own distinct foods.

One morning, our guide also took us through the morning market in town where farmers brought fresh fish and butchered livestock from that morning to sell. All the parts of an animal were displayed from cuts of meat to every innard, which was sold by weight. My favourite discovery at the morning market was kanom krok, coconut pudding, made fresh street side. A thin batter was poured into heated round molds, once the pudding began to firm up, two halves were flipped together to create a pudding sandwich. The texture was gooey but solid (aka like pudding), and the flavour was a creamy coconut. Despite how hot the snack was, right from the pan, and the glaring sun, I wolved these down quickly. Later in Bangkok, we were served kanom krok as part of dessert at Nahm, while more elegantly presented, I much prefered the ones I had from the street vendor.

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