Vientiane’s Walking Street a Surprising Sensation
Right in the middle of the Vientiane New World shopping district, beside the Mekong River, is Walking Street.
This vibrant new shopping and dining area is full of great places to eat and drink, and includes some stalls selling clothing and other products. Although dubbed Walking Street, it is more like a warren of interconnected lane-ways, and you will do more eating and drinking than you will walking! I would even rename it Eating Street!
As I approached Walking Street from the huge car park opposite I could not help but notice the large number of people holding drinks that were brightly lit up! They looked very cool, and I just had to have one.
As I walked down Walking Street I could see the ‘H20 Café’ down the centre selling the vivid cocktails. For 15,000 kip I got to choose one of 6 non-alcoholic flavors mixed with crushed ice. I chose the blue lemonade.
It was served in a plastic light bulb with a straw that had a light attached to it. The drink was a little too sweet for me but I love the bulb and light idea, and you get to keep it and reuse it at home.
Whilst I was waiting for my blue lemonade drink I noted the delicious aroma of BBQ pork coming from one of the lane-ways off Walking Street.
After getting my drink I followed my nose and found four young ladies preparing pork skewers over a traditional coal BBQ. The skewers were 4,000 kip each and full of succulent pork and vegetable chunks, including peppers, onion, tomato, chili and cucumber. These were so good I devoured four of them smothered in chili ketchup.
After the skewers I went for a walk to see all the other wonderful places to eat. I was spoilt for choice with so much variety and the smells were just delightful. The most popular dish on offer seemed to be the traditional hot pots, and there are about six different stalls serving hot pots, all extremely popular with customers.
Most stalls at Walking Street offer their own seating area, and there is a huge choice from the standard traditional plastic tables and chairs, to real hipster furniture made from recycled wooden pallets and oil barrels. Many of the seating areas were large enough for a group of 6-8 friends to relax together and have a good time.
After much deliberating, I finally decided to eat at the ‘Sweet Custard’ stall, choosing the pork sukiyaki, chicken tendons, pork dumplings and taro fish snacks. Whilst I was waiting for my food I went to the ‘CPM’ bar next to the ‘Sweet Custard’ for a Mai Lao cocktail. Although a little expensive at 35,000 kip, compared to the food, my cocktail did contain plenty of alcohol and they only use international branded spirits. It was absolutely delicious and is my new favourite cocktail in Laos.
The food was served quickly and was very tasty. My favourite was the pork sukiyaki at 15,000 kip, served in a small saucepan. The pork balls were lovely and soft and there were plenty of noodles and fresh vegetables, all served in a beautiful broth.
I was so comfortable sitting on the furniture made of pallets I decided to stay a little longer where I was and I ordered the churros from ‘Sweet Custard’ for my dessert. There was a choice of six toppings and three sauces, but I opted for the plain churros. I was happy to see them made fresh to order from the churros batter.
Walking Street is a place that I would be comfortable visiting on my own or as part of a group of friends to meet up for good food, drink and conversation. It is also a place you can visit with your family and take young children.
Unless you are ordering expensive cocktails you will not need a large budget to eat well on Walking Street. Most of the stalls I visited said they were there 7 days a week from 5:30-11:30pm, with some open earlier at weekends.
As I left Walking Street with a stomach full of good food, and memories of a good evening, I caught the smell of fresh seafood and garlic from a stall near the main entrance I had earlier missed.
Some customers sat next to the stall were enjoying the Moules Mariniere (mussels) which they said were amazing. I love mussels so I will definitely be going back to try those very soon.