The menu at Manda de Laos is 100% Laotian food using only family recipes taught from mother to daughter. The owner, Toune Sisouphanthavong, is a native to Luang Prabang with a clear passion for food and her country. In keeping with tradition, every recipe she uses comes from her grandmother and mother. This concept is boldly illustrated in the restaurant name itself (Manda meaning ‘Mother’).
From the first bite of the Lao Style Fish Salad (Koi Pa), it is evident care has been taken to create a savory, creamy appetizer. Coriander and mint add a nice flavor while the crispy fish topping adds a subtle, but crunchy texture to the palate pleasing salad.
Manda de Laos - Lao Style Fish Salad (Koi Pa)
Next, we tried the Sweet Chili Stuffed (Oua Mak Phet), a mild chili filled with spicy pork with a lemongrass kick. An accompanying sauce enhances the dish’s sweet and spicy essence adding to the pleasant aroma and flavors.
Manda de Laos - Sweet Chili Stuffed (Oua Mak Phet)
Speaking of spicy, the final appetizer given to us was the Luang Prabang Sausage (Say Oua Ma), a very mild, herby sausage accompanied by a spicy eggplant dip. The dip adds a welcoming spice that lingers on the tongue and begs you to try more.
For entrees, the Spare Ribs (Ping Pak Moo), with their sweet honey flavor, are a definite crowd pleaser. Likewise, the Crunchy Coconut Rice (Khao Khathi) is nicely balanced with coconut milk, and fried, crispy rice to create another standout dish.
Another favorite is the Papaya Salad (Tam Mak Hoong), similar to Thai Papaya Salad, however, not as spicy and sliced pork is added. The pork is tender and juicy and adds a lovely meat addition to the classic vegetarian dish.
Manda de Laos - Papaya Salad (Tam Mak Hoong)
If you want indulge your sweet tooth, do order the the coconut crème brulee (Sangkhaya Makpao). This delightful dessert is a perfect ending to a meal. Its sweet, soft texture and fresh coconut meat left us fulfilled and wishing for a second helping.
Manda de Laos - Coconut crème brulee (Sangkhaya Makpao)
Whether you are in Luang Prabang for a short visit or a long one, Manda de Laos is not to be missed. It is great for lunch or dinner, with a date or with friends. If you choose to dine alone, it is a great place to relax, read a book or have a quiet drink overlooking the lily pads.