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I may not have been a fan of Luang Prabang, but I did have one excellent experience: traditional Lao Barbecue at Lao Lao Garden restaurant in Luang Prabang.
Lao Lao Garden claims to have the only traditional Lao barbecue place in the city. (Again, this is what bothers me about Luang Prabang – if it’s so traditional, why is it only available at this one place?)
I’m a big fan of Shabu-Shabu at home in Boston – traditional Japanese cuisine where you cook a soup in a pot shared between you and your friends, dropping meat or seafood in, piece by piece.
Traditional Lao Barbecue was similar – a soup cooks in the pot while the meat sizzles on top.
My friend Anthony and I decided to try it out.
Start by filling the broth with vegetables and vermicelli noodles. These go in first because they take the longest to cook. The pot sits on top of a cement block filled with coals.
Next, take a slab of fat (!!) and rub it all over the top of the grill. Much more hardcore than a bit of butter!
Finally, throw the meat on top and watch it sizzle.
While the meat is cooking, add vegetables and vermicelli noodles to the broth.
And there’s your soup!
It was a lot of fun, and the soup was delicious, but it was also a lot of work. Much more work than Shabu-Shabu.
If you decide to go for traditional Lao barbecue, know that you won’t be having much of a conversation with your table-mates beyond, “Is this done?”
But whether it’s with a big group of friends or our for a date with that hot backpacker you met in Vang Vieng, traditional Lao barbecue is a great dining idea while you’re in Luang Prabang!