Sam Euay Nong (‘Three Sisters’) is a cheery, tidy family-run place in central Vientiane. They do a handful of simple Lao/Vietnamese dishes, ranging from tam mak hung, Lao-style papaya salad, to khao poon nam jaew, thin rice noodles in broth with pork and bamboo, all of which are full of flavour and well executed, but my favourite dish of theirs is probably naem khao.
The dish, shown above, is an unusual combination of deep-fried balls of rice and sour pork skin/meat, the former shown at the bottom of the pic below, and the latter, wrapped in banana leaf, at the top:
The rice and pork are mashed together with seasonings including fish sauce, lime juice, MSG, sugar and peanuts, and served with a platter of greens and herbs. The greens are very Lao, and include butter lettuce (very popular here) cilantro, an unidentified sour leaf, banana flower and phak hom laap, an herb that, to my mind, combines the flavours of both mint and Thai basil. Wrapping the rice mixture in a lettuce leaf along with the herbs and a bit of chili, you get a bit of everything: meat, crunch, spice, salt and greens. Brilliant.
Han Sam Euay Nong
Th Chao Anou (next door to Lao Orchid Hotel)
View Thai Eats in a larger map