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111 Samsenthai Road, Vientiane, Laos
+856 21 214 813
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ashbourne, United Kingdom
April 1, 2012
Best of IgoUgo
Kualao Restaurant141 Samsenthai Road VientianeWe had a really different Laos meal at lunch time in this restaurant. The name means Laos Kitchen and it prides itself it producing quality and authentic Laos food. The restaurant is open from 11:00am - ...
141 Samsenthai Road
We had a really different Laos meal at lunch time in this restaurant. The name means Laos Kitchen and it prides itself it producing quality and authentic Laos food. The restaurant is open from 11:00am - 10:30pm every day and offers both a la carte menus and set meals.
The restaurant is actually a restored colonial mansion. It is a restaurant that caters for tourists, expats and local diners with a bit more money than the average Laos resident might have. It claims to produce ‘Lao cuisine prepared and served to International standards at reasonable prices.’ I understand from our guide that the food is a bit cheaper at lunch than in the evening as there is a cultural music and dance show in the evening.
This restaurant is right in the city of Vientiane and there is a reasonable sized car park adjacent to the restaurant which was very handy as it was raining really hard on the day we visited and this meant that we could get pretty close and run with a brolly to the front door.
As we entered the restaurant the entrance was quite small and we were greeted and taken passed a bar and a front room into a larger back room. The entrance was not very inspiring despite a lovely flower arrangement of torch lilies and a rather strange exhibit of an elephant’s bone.
Once we were in the dining room we initially thought we had a huge room to ourselves but there was a party at the table next to ours and gradually as we ate our meal more tables filled up around us. This did improve the atmosphere as I hate sitting in a large restaurant and being the only customers as you feel as though you have chosen somewhere that others have rejected.
We decided as we had quite a lot more sightseeing to experience around Vientiane that it would be sensible to avoid the delicious Beer Laos and stick to a non alcoholic beverage. We ordered lemon tea and it came with sugar syrup in a separate little liqueur glass so you could add it to suit your own taste, I added the whole glassful as it had no sweetness in it at all.
We did find that the food in Laos was a bit limited but at this stage we had only had four days and so we were still enjoying the variations offered. We selected a Mekong fish, a dish which we had had before in Luang Prabang and is a famous Laos dish called Laap or Lab and finally we decided we would try the fried crickets. Along with our dishes we ordered the Laos sticky rice which comes in a sort of woven basket about the same size and shape as a half pint glass.
The Mekong fish was not as nice as others we have had as it was very bony and tricky to get anything off it but the sauce was quite tasty. The laap we chose was chicken but it can be pork beef or fish as well. Laap is chopped or minced meat or fish, mixed with lime juice, fish sauce, mint, coriander, spring onion, chilli and it is really tasty and one of our favourite, the chicken is possibly the nicest as you get not grissly bits in that. The crickets came on a dish and looked exactly as they might when alive, except they were a tan colour and of course quite dead as they were cooked. They were surprisingly tasty and in my opinion tasted like crispy bits of chicken, a bit like mini chicken goujons.
We had so much food that despite the fact that the fish was pretty much left we still didn’t manage to finish. It was a shame that the fish was not great as we had enjoyed some really nice Mekong fish at the hotel the night before but that was fried rather than cooked in a sauce so we avoided fish in sauce for the rest of our stay in Laos.
The food was very nicely presented and there were little touches like a vegetable flower as decoration which adds to the elegance of the dish. Service was efficient and the waiter very pleasant. We had to wait some little time for our food which makes me think that it was specifically cooked fresh rather than taken from pots already cooked in the kitchen.
We ended the meal with a plate of fruit which was refreshing and we both love tropical fruit so have this as often as we can when we are in countries where mangoes, pawpaw and dragon fruit and other such treats are available. We were offered coffee or tea but declined as we knew we had a lot more sightseeing to do and toilets are few and far between.
We did use the toilets here and they were okay. There was one of each and it was tiled and tired but basically clean. I did make sure I used my hand cleanser afterwards though as it certainly was not a place of luxury. The tap was wobbly and hard to turn on and off and the toilet had seen better days but it wasn’t the worst we experienced in our travels.
The restaurant took credit cards which was handy for us as we try not to carry too much money around with us when walking around a city. They were good and didn’t take my card away from the table but brought the machine to me. We have only ever had one card incident and that happened on Orchard road in Singapore and since then we have been very careful not to let the card out of our sight.
I would say that this was good quality food freshly cooked but a little more expensive than some restaurants around. The service was excellent and once the place filled up a bit the atmosphere in the dining area was pleasantly busy. I am not sure whether I fancy the nightly singing and dancing show with the meal as I actually prefer talking to the person I am eating with but should you want to see the show then you need to go in the evening.