on April 7, 2012
The View Pavilion Restaurant and hotelWe only had lunch in this restaurant so I cannot comment on what this is like as a hotel. The hotel is right in the city and just one street away from the Nam Khan River. The dining terrace upstairs gives you a perfect view of the street below and all the temples nearby. In the distance from this terrace you can also just about see the mountains but as Luang Prabang is in an area where slash and burn agriculture still takes place most of the time the city is shrouded in a smoky haze a bit like Beijing’s smog.The day we went for lunch we had been up quite early and had walked around the city for at least four hours already so we were quite tired. What we wanted more than food was to sit and take the weight off our legs. Our little lady guide, Wong came with us and recommended which dishes we should try. She was a truly ladylike and genteel person whose husband was working in another part of the country, she was living with her mother in law and had a three year daughter whom we did meet. She was a little doll and so wll behaved but I digress, sorry.Wong suggested we try Or Lam which is a kind of meat stew with vegetables but with the addition of herbs and spices and buffalo skin and pork skin. I have to say that put me off but my husband who is game for anything ordered it. I ordered a chicken lap or larb ( depending on where you see it written) which is a minced meat salad flavoured with coriander, chilli and fish sauce and between us we thought we would try a fish mok which is fish wrapped in banana leaf and steamed with herbs and chilli. The dishes arrived piping hot with sticky rice which I have to say I got pretty sick of in the end as it is very chewy and quite dry but this was our first Laotian meal and we were keen and eager to try things. The fish mok was delicious and so tender and no hidden bones to surprise us either. The flavours of the coriander and lemongrass and chilli really soaked into the fish and that went down as a success. We did try chicken mok on other occasions and that was just as good. This was one of my favourite of the dishes in Laos.The next dish was the chicken lap which is cold. The minced chicken is cooked in stock in a wok and then cooled after this chopped fresh herbs like coriander and ginger plus others are added and finally fish sauce is poured into the mix. I admit that at times I found the fish sauce was a touch overpowering and if too much was added I didn’t like it as much. This was my first try and I really enjoyed it as it was fresh tasting and very different.The final dish was the Or Lam which I really was not keen on trying but felt that I had to give it a go. There were lots of vegetables in the stew such as carrots, squash, potatoes and beans so I managed to select a spoonful of those for my sample. The stew itself was really tasty but the bits of buffalo skin and pork skin were very off putting and even my husband who ate some said they were pretty revolting but he ate t to be polite. I am sad to say that my manners don’t stretch to eating yukky things so as not to offend.We ordered a lemon tea each to drink with our meal and they also brought us a jug of iced water. What is nice in Laos is that if you eat at a restaurant and they bring you water it is safe to drink. I think it wouldn’t be worth giving tourist funny tums from tap water so they are very careful we found.The dining terrace was empty apart from our table and there was no-one downstairs either but maybe lunch isn’t a popular meal. We found the food to be freshly prepared and tasty and didn’t have any adverse reaction from the meal which is always a plus when travelling. The service was quick and quite friendly. The owner brought our lady guide a special tea as she knew she was pregnant so I suspect she is a friend. Wong was quite up front and had said that they would give her a meal for free if we ate there so she wasn’t trying to pull one over us.When it was time to go we paid in cash so I am not sure if they take credit cards. The meal was not very expensive between £5 and £10 I believe so it wouldn’t have been worth the bother. As we were going to be walking for another few hours we decided to use the ‘bathroom; facilities before going on. These were downstairs and round the back. On the way I passed a few ladies washing up in bowls on the floor which slightly concerned me but as we had no upset stomach from the meal it was obviously okay.The toilets were separate and they were proper sit on toilets and there was a wash basin, soap and paper towels too so I was quite happy. I still used the hand sanitiser though to make sure.Prior to arriving in Laos we had read that you were safe to eat from the street stalls. As we were going around the city Wong had bought us some baked sweet potato and banana from a lady with an open fire pit and we ate that but we did actually avoid the little stalls along the road; we always feel if we lived there we would eat from these stalls but when on such a time schedule we really do not want to be laid up with traveller’s tummy as it is no fun. We did however eat at a number of local restaurants, most of them I forget but I did remember this as it was our first meal with local Laos food so one we remembered.
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