Dig into Lao cuisine
A cooking class is a great window into Lao culture. Not only will you gain insight into ingredients and dishes, you’ll discover the important relationship Lao people have with food and the traditional dining etiquette.
Most cooking classes follow the same formula: lessons on three to five dishes, recipes to take home and of course, a big meal at the end. Some include a tour of a local fresh market. There is usually a discounted rate for children.
Tuk Tuk Safari offers a cooking class, as well as guided food tours, a textile/handicraft tour and village homestays. The cooking class is offered on Saturday evenings, taking place at Soumaly’s outdoor home kitchen. Cost is US$45 per person. If you’re looking for a guided food tour, "The Hungry Tuk Tuk" takes you through fresh markets to see how some Lao ingredients are made before hopping from shop to shop to sample the best local eats (US$70 per person). If you want guidance on how to navigate the city’s intimidating night time street eats, “Dinner with the Locals” will remove some of the mystery and have you trying some surprising items (US$32 per person). Most tours require a minimum of two people. They post any upcoming dates you can join on their website. T: (020) 5433 3089 firstname.lastname@example.org
Madam Phasouk runs cooking classes in her home and she boasts over 15 years experience as a cooking teacher at hotels. The lesson begins with a visit to the market to buy all the fresh ingredients and cooking two main dishes and a salad, all for 150,000 kip per person. Choose either a 09:30 start time for lunch, or 15:00 for dinner. Pick up from accommodation is included. Call Madam Phasouk at (020) 5601 2458.
Lao Experiences’ owner Ms Nouk gained some fame when she taught popular Vietnamese-Australian chef and TV host Luke Nguyen about Lao cuisine. Whether you’re a professional chef or an amateur, students are picked up a Full Moon Cafe and taken to a pleasant garden setting to learn how to prepare some of the country’s favourite dishes like mok pa, fish filet and herbs steamed in a banana leaf, spicy papaya salad and mango-sticky rice for dessert. Book in advance at Full Moon Cafe (Francois Ngin Rd), call Ms Nouk at (020) 5569 9429 or email email@example.com, cost US$35 per person. Morning (10:00 to 13:30) and evening (17:00 to 20:00) sessions are available, or sign up just for their morning fresh market tour (08:00 to 10:00, US$25)
A big sign displayed in front of Khop Chai Deu restaurant promotes a cooking class but when we went inside to inquire, the staff at the time couldn’t give us any information. So here is what is advertised: you select the dishes you want to learn how to cook and in addition to the meal, you get recipes to take with you. Monday to Saturday 08:30 to 14:00, 600,000 kip per person (based on two people), 500,000 kip per person (three or more). To book call (020) 5913 4345 or stop in at Khop Chai Deu and hopefully you will have more luck than we did. Khop Chai Deu is a popular westernised Lao restaurant beside the Nam Phou Fountain, across from Joma Bakery Cafe.
Cindy Fan is a Canadian writer/photographer and author of So Many Miles, a website that chronicles the love of adventure, food and culture. After falling in love with sticky rice and Mekong sunsets, in 2011 she uprooted her life in Toronto to live la vida Laos. She’s travelled to over 40 countries and harbours a deep affection for Africa and Southeast Asia. In between jaunts around the world, she calls Laos and Vietnam home where you’ll find her traipsing through rice paddies, standing beside broken-down buses and in villages laughing with the locals.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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