Southeast Asian Food Favorites

by - 3:00 PM

I think I've spent most of my online life so far obsessing over pizza. Today that's going to change. Don't get me wrong, pizza is still amazing, but sometimes when you're on the other side of the world, you want to eat something else. Some local dishes, full of unknown spices and unexpected flavors. That's exactly what happened to me this summer. During my month in Southeast Asia I tried many different dishes at many different restaurants. Most of the food was great, but there were three places that managed to blow my mind. Three places with amazing food that I just have to tell you about today.

Saam House Restaurant

Most tourists quickly pass Saam House Restaurant in Bangkok by as if it's one of the city's many dodgy food carts. It's not very surprising when you take into account that the kitchen is a cart in the alley next to the building. This building literally is someone's house, you're seated right on their front porch and almost in their living room. It looks a little bit too weird for most newbie travellers, but there's more to Saam House Restaurant than meets the eye.
First of all it just looks like a really fun place with it's small tables, stools and chalkboards with the menu written on them in bright colors. But the best part is that you can't go wrong with any of their dishes. They have your basic pad thai and the best spring rolls of Southeast Asia. If you're a little more adventurous you can choose one of the countless lesser known Thai dishes on their menu. Just don't mistake a chili pepper for a piece of tomato, like my dad did. It's hilarious for everyone, from the other dinner guests to the super friendly owners of Saam House, but your tongue will die. Don't worry too much about spicyness though, because you can extinguish the fire in your mouth with the best fruit shakes in Thailand. You can pick anything from simple (yet delicious) banana to a mixed smoothie with fruits western ears have never even heard of before. Believe me, Saam House Restaurant will not disappoint you. It's the most authentic dinner experience I had in all of Thailand.
Where: the sois (side roads) of Samsen Road near the Oasis Hostel, Bangkok, Thailand.
Recommendation: the chicken with cashew nuts is a safe choice with an exotic touch that still makes my mouth water to this day. Combine it with a watermelon shake and you've got an amazing meal for about 4 dollars.

The Restaurant in the Alley

Okay, I know I said Saam House Restaurant's kitchen was in an alley and that probably already freaked some of you out, but this entire restaurant is hidden away in a small alley in Luang Prabang. I'm not sure if it even has a name... Anyway, this alley actually has two restaurant, but you're gonna wanna pick the restaurant on the right once you enter the alley. The furniture is all plastic, the kind of stuff we put in gardens here in Europe. Just like Saam House, this restaurant is a family business, which means that the children might just bring you your order. Especially the oldest daughter, who is about 8 years old, likes to help her parents. Don't be surprised if she mixes your order up with that of other guests though - none of the orders are written down and she's doing her best. Besides, thanks to one of her small mistakes I discovered my favorite Lao dish.
Of course the food here is amazing, but what really sold the place to me was the setting. Geckos run up and down the walls and you just might end up with a purring cat by your side at some point during your meal. On the big road tourists pass by on their way to the night market and fairy lights at the end of the alley give the place a magical glow. Perfect place if you're not afraid to step off the beaten track.
Where: the first alley on the right if you turn up Sisavangvong Road from Sakkaline Road in Luang Prabang, Laos.
Recommendation: I'll be forever grateful for the little daughter accidentally putting friend pork with garlic on our table. This dish is simply amazing. The restaurant has fruit shakes as well, but your trip to Southeast Asia isn't complete without a sip of bright green Fanta. Don't be afraid, despite its look it won't make your teeth fall out.

Saffron Coffee's Espresso, Brew Bar & Roastery

I don't drink coffee, but I do eat breakfast. That's why I found myself at Saffron Coffee, a coffee shop that would have stood its ground in any western metropolis with a big hipster population. It's open for breakfast and lunch and every tourist on the Luang Prabang peninsula should go there at least once. I can't say much about the coffee (except that it's made from Lao fairtrade beans, so by drinking your morning coffee here you help the country as well), but the tea was great. A big plus is that you get a class of ice cold water with every order, something you'll appreciate a lot in the crushing humidity of Laos. You barely get time to finish that glass - free ice cold refills all around!

If you're on the go, Saffron Coffee is perfect as well, as they sell brownies and carrot cake. Their breakfast menu is simply awesome. There's bagels and the best breakfast invention ever: the breakfast burrito, filled with potatoes, spinach and tomatoes. Neither breakfast item is cheap for Lao standards, but its worth every single kip. I promise you won't go hungry for hours and you'll have all the energy you need to explore the Luang Prabang area - maybe even by bicycle!
Where: Khem Khong, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Recommendation: You'll regret not ordering a breakfast burrito. All drinks here are great and keep in mind that you're helping local farmers with every order. Don't forget to check out their souvenirs and home ware on your way out. Not only do the pillow cases they sell look awesome, not only can you take your favorite Lao coffee home, these proceeds help the local community as well!

I'm serious, if I ever go to this part of the world again I already know where I'll be eating. These restaurants taught me that taking a risk is totally worth it. Which one would you like to go to?

x Envy

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6 Fellow Ramblers

  1. I've been to Southeast Asia once before (when I went to Thailand) but we mainly just ate in restaurants. These all look so cool, and eating some street food from a little stall like the first one is on my bucket list if/when I go back (even thought it is a risk!)

    Lexie x

    1. Hey, I can't blame you for sticking with restaurants. Getting something from a cart freaked me out at first too. But that's why I wrote this post, to show that there are some great places that aren't up to the standards we're used to seeing in restaurant in the western world. These ones aren't risky at all.

  2. These have all made me drool so much. i'm on the train so hungry! The Saam house sounds so authentic what a treat! added to my Asia list for next year xx

    1. I'm so sorry you were stuck on a train drooling over this food! Saam House is amazing. Like you said, so authentic. The people running it are so friendly. I hope to eat their food again one day.

  3. Never been to Asia but I really love asian food, definitely going to those places if I ever go there xx that burrito look sooo delicious.

    1. Funny thing is that my dad thinks that burrito looks awful but it's really the best breakfast food everrrrr.


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