As many of you know, my blog isn’t a food blog – you don’t see many photos and posts of food. But I enjoy going for food tours to sample a variety of the local cuisine especially during the first few days of my trip as it is a good introduction to a new destination. The problem is that I have to constantly remind myself to take photos of the food because half the time, the food is already in my mouth before I get the chance to snap photos of it!
But I am improving, and indeed I had taken a few photos of the street food tour that I went for in Luang Prabang. Along with travel bloggers, Nam of Laugh Travel Eat and Madhurima of Orange Wayfarer, we met our guides, Huelee and Jue from Backstreet Academy (why do I keep thinking of Backstreet Boys?!) at the post office in the heart of Luang Prabang town. Huelee and Jue took us to different parts of the town centre in a tuk-tuk to sample various types of Luang Prabang food from pork stew to noodle soup, local sausages and omelette, and seasonal fruits and coconut pancakes for dessert.
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If you relish rich flavours, spices and having lots of coconut in your dessert, I guarantee you are in for a delight when you travel to Luang Prabang. Here are my highlights from the tour:
Orlam is a thick stew made of pork, wood chips, buffalo skin and herbs. Orlam is unique to the Luang Prabang province and is best eaten with sticky (glutinous) rice. Laotians like to take a handful of sticky rice and roll it into a ball in their palms. We did the same and dipped that sticky rice ball in the pork stew. The shiny yellowish strip (see pic below) is actually buffalo skin – a little chewy but tastes good.
Orlam is slightly spicy but overall is such a tasty dish that we had to remind ourselves not to eat too much of it as that was our first stop and we had another four places to go!
Khao Soi is noodle soup made of flat rice noodles served with chopped pork, fermented soy beans, chillies, shallots and garlic. The Laotian version of Khao Soi is different from the Thai Khao Soi – the former is clear soup-based whereas the latter is curry-based. Either way, I love it and I reckon Khao Soi is the perfect dish to have when you’re having a flu – the broth is absolutely delicious and soothing.
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Coconut pancake is an absolutely must when you travel to Laos! The pancake is made of sticky rice powder and the best part is when the street vendor pours generous amounts of coconut milk on the pancake! It’s really light and yummy!
Food and vegetable markets
Apart from eating, we also went to a market where we saw a variety of meat and vegetables. The local produce is similar to what we have in Malaysia but some are unfamiliar to me, for instance, wood chips. Wood chips (or our guides call it ‘wood vegetables’) are cooked in orlam and they look like strips from a tree bark. Locals chew on these chips when they eat orlam but I didn’t know and put a small chunk in my mouth! It was very chewy and I didn’t like it at all. But at least, now I know what a wood chip is 😊
The duration of our street food tour was two hours long but it felt too short, and that’s because I had enjoyed it so much! Backstreet Academy did a good job in scheduling the right number of stops for food – four stops, if I recall correctly – and a walk through the market. If the tour had too many stops, I don’t think we would have enjoyed eating the food, talking with our guides, taking photos of the market and most of all, having a great experience.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, going for a food tour during the first few days in a new destination gives a good introduction to the place. Well, we signed up for the tour, literally, two hours after we landed in Luang Prabang! The fact that it went really well, I guess, it was a sign that my trip to Luang Prabang was off to a good start. And indeed, for I had an amazing five days in Luang Prabang!
*Many thanks to Backstreet Academy for the complimentary tour. I had enjoyed the food tour that I would have written a review about it regardless. Any opinions expressed in this post are mine, as always.
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