After more than a month in Vientiane, I have to admit that it's still the case that I've still only been able to find a scant handful of places that do good Lao food. Luckily I live literally around the corner from one that I, not to mention many locals, consider the best place in town.
Nang Kham Bang ('Ms Khambang'), or as the sign says, Khambang Lao Food Restaurant, is a third-generation family run place serving a relatively short but solid menu of Lao dishes. I’ve eaten here at least eight times now, both by myself and with others, and can say with confidence that the kitchen is consistent and service is also good, the latter a true rarity in Laos.
Just about everything here suggests quality, even down to the good-quality and perfectly steamed sticky rice:
The house dish is fish (pictured at the top of this post), in the form of a half or whole paa neua on (a type of freshwater fish) lightly seasoned and grilled. Mekong River fish is also featured in kaeng som paa, a sour fish-based tom yam-like soup with lots of dill, bai menglak (a basil-like herb), shallots and galangal:
They do an excellent sai ua:
a Lao-style sausage, often associated with Luang Prabang, that’s less herbal than its similarly-named Thai counterpart. Other good meat dishes are a sublime grilled beef tongue:
very good laap:
including an excellent koy plaa (like laap, but made with larger chunks of freshwater fish), and jee sin lot:
strips of beef that have been grilled until charred then scraped of all the burnt bits and pounded until tender.
Other dishes worth ordering are or laam, a thick stew-like stew of beef or pork with lots of herbs and vegetables; a very good jaew mak len, a dip of grilled tomatoes; and I reckon their tam maak hung (som tam -- papaya salad), served here with tiny crispy tomatoes and even tinier freshwater shrimp, is the best version of the dish I've encountered yet in Laos.
Khambang Lao Food Restaurant 97/2 Th Khounboulom +85 217 198 10am-10pm
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