Discovering family flavours in Laos
With a panoramic backdrop of lotus ponds and hanging vines, there’s no denying that Manda de Laos has one of the most romantic settings of any restaurant in Luang Prabang, but it’s the family-style cuisine that really grabs the heart. In Lao, manda means mother, and is a tribute to the mum of the current owner, Toune Sisouphanthavong, and to the traditional ways of cooking in the country that predate the increasingly fast-paced modern world.
The beautiful property, which has been in her family’s hands for generations, makes the perfect showcase for a menu of Lao favourites, such as the heady khou sin kwai, wok-fried buffalo flambéed with lao Lao rice wine, the delicate fruity flavours of the yam mak pee (banana blossom with chicken and herbs), and downright delicious ping dook moo (spare ribs glazed with honey sourced from the jungle).
Ultimately though, everything comes back to mum: “While daily life has changed in Laos and around the world, here at Manda de Laos we carry on the traditions and spirit of maman Phiew, dedicated to sharing how one cooked and ate in the past, when we had more time,” says Sisouphanthavong. Manda de Laos, Luang Prabang, Lao; mandadelaos.com
Clockwise from top left, The menu at Manda de Laos focuses on family-style Luang Prabang dishes; the Unescolisted lotus pond; tropical-infused cocktail; a romantic table for two