Since there were few options for quality Western food in these listless river cities, I ate local. My favorite way to eat local is by asking what is the waitresses’ favorite dish, but English isn’t widely spoken, so I took my chances. Menus usually have three options: rice with various meats, noodles with various meats or fish…with rice or noodles. I’m not complaining, sometimes it’s strange and delicious, but other times you are hungry for specificity, which can lead to frustration. That frustration goes simmering into the sunset when you get a dish like this:
Xoyxuay Restaurant in the courtyard of the Catholic Church in Savannakhet. Outstanding fried noodles and Laos style Pad Thai plus ICE cold BeerLao = pleased customer. (40,000kip 5US$) *Recommended*
Pretty good street food at a crowded restaurant. (15,000kip 2US$)
Good taste, but all fatty pork, with hairy pork skin attached. (40,000kip 5US$)
Delightfully minty and basilly, this is the famous Laap dish of Laos. (28,000kip <4US$)
Perfectly blended, sugar free carrot juice with chocolate ice cream dessert. (20,000kip <3US$)
Don Det’s tiny enclave of roosting chicken houses, dirt piles for lazy dogs and fish bones for surly cats also produces some chill opportunities to its human inhabitants too. I got lucky and stumbled upon a man for whom the word t-shirt has lost all meaning. It’s as if his body has become resistant to cottons and polyesters. His shaved head born from indifference of trends, his cutoff jean shorts not worn ironically, his feet having long ago merged with the dirt were unprotected, Darren had become of the island. He was “busy” repairing a fence for The Street View Cafe when I found him. I had just had another mediocre burger recently and after responding to his “How ya goin mate?” with an “Aight” of my own, I hinted at his aptitude for making good hamburgers, and being received with an enthusiastic affirmation, I ordered one. It was great. His Laotian wife cooks all his recipes and the good music, decent wi-fi and green atmosphere provided a small haven for me. If you notice, all the food has been shuffled and mostly eaten, each being somehow more comfort laden than the last. Fair Dinkum.
Meatballs and mash in onion gravy. Delightful.
Nice Brekkie! Hash browns were so dense, I had to use a knife, bacon al dente.
Pepper added by me. Chicken schnitzel was not dry, but aided immensely by the chili sauce.
There was another bar down towards the beach, Adam’s, that offered a rare service. They can upload movies, music, books etc to whatever electronics or USB’s you have. They also had a famous “pumpkin burger.” It’s thick and full of flavor, and vegetarian friendly, until I added bacon and cheese. With home-made onion rings.
My small cabin where I stayed for 5 days, rented to me for only 20,000 kip (<3US$/day). Mama Piang’s had good beds, with mosquito nets, squat toilets and loud neighbors who impatiently start the day seemingly before the sun. She cooks good curries and Laos’ famous dish, Laap. Sticky as glue rice, dipped into the saucy meat and bean sprout mix.