Category Archives: Food

Beer Drinkers Post-Halloween Hangover Risk Reduced as Prices Rise in Laos

Beer price on rise

Beer drinkers beware this Halloween!

Lao Brewery Company announced wholesale price increases to retailers of its flagship beverage Beerlao on Monday, October 29.

Suppliers and retailers were notified of the price increases for the popular beverage being implemented to offset higher production and distribution costs, according to the company’s public statement to its retail customers and distributors.

Lao Brewing Company announces price rises.

BeerLao price increases announced from October 29, 2018.

The noticed informed suppliers:

As inflation and production costs continue to rise, Beerlao has issued a new wholesale price, which limits the price of beer.

All customers and agents must comply strictly with the prices set to ensure that there is no impact on customers and consumers in the market.

Inflation pressures as currency, fuel oil price pressures bite manufacturers, distributors, consumers of products (including beer)

As usual, price rises in popular commodities can leave a bitter taste.

The impact is usually felt most by those folks persevering on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum, while those consumers at the more prosperous demographics with a taste for the ever-popular brew should hardly be discouraged.

Price rises may be unlikely to deter many committed drinkers in either camp.

Regardless, those who enjoy the famed beverage can expect to pay more, particularly if retailers pass on the rises in the form of pricier (and less regulated) individual bottle or draft beer sales at the counter.

Price rises announced included:

Crates of Beerlao 640ml up from 90,000 kip to 93,000 kip per unit. Retail sale price of 108,000 kip.

Boxes of Beerlao 640ml up from 94,000 Kip to 97,000 Kip. Retail sale price of 103,000 Kip.

Boxes of Beerlao 330 ml bottles from 105,000 Kip to 115,000 Kip. Retail sale price of 125,000 Kip.

Boxes of Dark Lager Beerlao 330 ml bottles from 135,000 kip to 145,000 kip. Retail sale price of 155,000 kip.

Crates of Lane Xang Beer 640 ml up from 55,000 kip to 60,000 kip. Retail sale price of 75,000 kip.

Draft Beerlao rises from 11,000 kip per litre to 11,500 kip per litre. (Retail price not specified.)

 

Beer price on rise

Lao Brewery Company, the producer of Beerlao, announces price rises from October 29 to cover input costs, inflationary pressures.

Boy Wonder: Paris’ Prestigious ESMOD Fashion School Awaits Lao Young Design Wunderkind

Lao Fashion Week 2018

Fashion wunderkind Nanthaveth Buppha, known to friends and family by the nickname “Boy”, is getting set for Paris after taking top spot as Lao Young Designer 2018.

The Laotian Times was at Crowne Plaza Vientiane as the young fashionista took out the top spot among the five design aspirants awarded by the Lao Young Designers Project, an initiative of Lao Fashion Week.

The young designer is set to spend six months learning the trade at Paris ESMOD.

Runners-up were not left out. Singapore’s Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts will welcome first runner-up Mr Daovanh Inthavong for six months.

Mr Visaphon Keovilay (aka Candy) is set to spend an year studying at the London College of Design and Fashion’s Hanoi campus.

A 2-month course at Manila’s Fashion Institute of Phlippines followed by 2 months interning with designers awaits Ms Chindasanga Vongsouly.

Thai designers Pitnapat and Eaggamon in Bangkok will play host to two months of training for Mr Kee Phearkhamngon.

More images at Laos Briefly.

Michelin-Starred Bangkok Restaurant Paste Prepares Luang Prabang Plates

While the conventional narrative about Luang Prabang is one of adoration and admiration, especially for the old town’s storied tranquility and architectural charms, the sleepy UNESCO World Heritage Listed city has as yet not been duly celebrated as a destination for international fine dining.

All that is set to change in November as the team of chefs behind the Michelin-starred Paste Bangkok open a fine dining experience at their restaurant specializing in Lao cuisine, marrying contemporary mores with the city and country’s own collated culinary wisdom.

Paste Bangkok’s celebrity Chef Bee Satongun and co-owner and husband Chef Jason Bailey — whose restaurant was awarded a Michelin star in the inaugural edition of the Bangkok Michelin Guide as well as recognized as one of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2018 —  have set their eyes on Laos and Luang Prabang in particular.

Bee’s personal and historical connection to the country and region is enjoyed through the prism of her Hmong roots.

“I chose Laos because of its nature and the countryside, which I adore. At Paste, we use tremendous amounts of cultivated and wild ingredients. Plants, shoots, sprouts, flowers – you name it.”

“Our dishes will be based on Lao cuisine for the most part. The Hmong side of my cuisine manifests itself in the use of cultivated and foraged wild ingredients.”

“By smoking, curing, pickling, and fermenting over 100 different types of plant species, we will be making gastronomical strides into what was once purely reserved for the realm of medicine.”

“However, the cuisine of Paste, which is predominantly plant-based, will still be using a high variety and quality of meats and proteins.”

“We will employ modern scientific techniques such as extreme precision of temperature control and other cooking processes that are in accordance with scientific and international principles of gastronomy.”

Celebrity Thai/Lao Chef Bongkoch “Bee” Satongun (photo credit: Paste Laos FB Page)

Michelin-starred Paste Bangkok’s menu is essentially heirloom creative Thai cuisine, based at its core on numerous old Thai family recipes from 1870 to 1930.

Likewise, Paste Laos will be inspired by traditional recipes from Phia Sing’s book of dishes served at the Royal Palace in Luang Prabang over many generations.

These traditional dishes will be slightly updated to bring about a fresher appeal to modern audiences.

The new restaurant will also carry several signature dishes from Paste Bangkok.

“Over time, we will include some dishes from various ethnic minorities of Laos, because our creativity and menus are never set in stone and always remain in a state of flux year on year.”

Like the boutique hotel where the restaurant will be located, Paste at The Apsara will be sure to pay the greatest possible attention to detail.

As in Bangkok, the discerning diner in Luang Prabang will be pleased to take note of the processes taken to create memorable dishes with a focus on preserving old-fashioned ways where possible.

Sauces may contain over 20 layers of flavor and over 30 ingredients.

Culinary critics and connoisseurs hungrily await further detail on the menu set to be offered at Paste at the Apsara.

Fortunately, several stunning images have surfaced on social media with the hashtag #pastelaos that offer tantalizing teases to tempt the palate.

Meanwhile, owner of the Apsara, hotelier Ivan Scholte, has been in Luang Prabang since 2001.

Opening in 2002, the Apsara was Luang Prabang’s first foreign-owned hotel and was also the first boutique hotel of its time.

Hosting Laos’ first Michelin-caliber restaurant will no doubt add further luster to the ongoing allure of the Apsara.

Laos’ Biggest Ever Sticky Rice Basket Presented by Inthira Group

Inthira Hotels & Restaurants presented Laos’ biggest ever basket of sticky rice (khao niao) at the opening of LAOFOOD 2018 Exhibition, held at the National Convention Centre in Vientiane from 7-9 July, while also taking home honors at the event’s hospitality and culinary competitions.

The Best of Laos

A country could tell its whole story through food, if only it knew how.

 When Latsamy Vetsaphong first heard a western friend wondering aloud where they could buy some of the amazing delicacies they had tried while in Laos, she realised there was a gap in the market for Lao souvenirs.

And when she heard yet another friend lamenting that some of the food she had gathered to take home to relatives wasn’t nicely packaged, she knew she was onto something.

“I heard people saying that Laos didn’t export anything but timber and handicrafts,” she says.

“This was more than five years ago. I thought to myself, okay, what can I do to help?”

She decided to focus on some of the the country’s unique foods, using comments from her foreigner friends as a guide.

“Let’s say when they go to Luang Prabang, what do they like to buy? Quite often it’s riverweed, the famous one with sesame seeds,” she says.

But it wasn’t just foreigners who were picking up food as gifts for the family back home.

“I think even in Laos, locals still don’t know what food is available from north to south,” she says.

“Laos may be a small country, but people don’t realise how diverse the food is here. Northerners are often unfamiliar with specific southern ingredients.”

Through her new business, Lao Best, she has begun selecting what she believes is the best of the country’s products to sell in her shop, from small plantation coffee and wild honey, to riverweed and fish sauce. And with a career in the import and export trade under her belt, she has learned over the years what works.

“With the right packaging and presentation, we can tell our story all over the world – why we eat the way we do, and how we make our food,” she says.

The shop has been open just two months at the time of writing, and Ms Latsamy already has plans to open more branches outside of Vientiane – one in every province, if she has her way.

She has also started selling products to local minimarts, including Thai chainstore Jiffy, and hopes foreign shoppers will soon catch on to how easy it is to pick up well-packaged foods to take home.

She also plans, ultimately, to export the products through Lao Best, although not all of the foodstuffs will be successful on the international market.

“We’re now testing the market, to see what foods can be exported,” she says.

“An example is Lao jerky. Dried meat is eaten all over the world, and we have our version from Savannakhet, made from pork and beef. We just have to work how to export it, and where it would sell best.”

But she also wants to educate her own people about what her country has to offer.  One thing she has noted during the process of identifying the best foods is that many producers of food and handicrafts have benefited from sporadic assistance – both technical and in marketing terms – from non-government organisations. The assistance, while welcome, is often non-ongoing, and projects are often left to flounder.

“They know the help won’t go on forever, but they often don’t know what to do next,” she says.

“They need someone to come in and encourage them to continue to produce their products, and guide them with their marketing. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

For the moment, though, she is focused on growing the business and expanding its list of products and urges anyone who wants to become involved to contact Lao Best on Facebook.

 

 

Originally Published in: Champa Meuanglao

Singapore Restaurant Sells Thai Food, Misspells Lao Name

Un-Yang-Kor-Dai, a concept from the Thai city of Khao Yai, has recently opened an outlet in Chinatown in South Bridge Road, Singapore.

While its brand positioning is understandably geared towards serving authentic Thai or Isan cuisine, its restaurant name is written in the standard language of Laos, where Isan culture derives a historical commonality. However, the Lao spelling is quite peculiar as there is an apparent discrepancy between the original text in Lao script and its English transliteration, one that would not have been overlooked by an average Lao person.

Although it is common that Thais in the Northeastern Isan region of Thailand may speak and understand Lao language, many do not have full command of the Lao script. This misspelling demonstrates either a lack of awareness regarding the differences between modern Thai and Lao languages, or an uninformed approach that makes the assumption that nobody will notice – or care. While Singaporeans may be linguistically none the wiser, there are seven million Lao (and counting) who regularly travel to both Singapore and Thailand, who could possibly be irritated by this blunder concerning the use of their language.

With signature dishes such as the PenLaos Signature Grilled Chicken, Korat-Style Fried Rice Noodles with chicken. The al dente dry noodles are fried on the spot, with a potpourri of Thai chilli paste, fish sauce, bean sprouts and chives.

The restaurant, which adopts an open-kitchen concept and is decorated with community artworks and handicrafts, also makes three special sauces by hand: Isaan Spicy Dipping Sauce, Special Spicy Sauce and Sweet and Sour Sauce. The first sauce is paired with the Isaan Beef Tenderloin Steak for a spicy kick.

Other dishes include Tom Yum Kung Num Kon with fresh prawns and coconut milk, Fresh Crab With Red Curry Sauce, Steamed Whole Sea Bass In Spicy Lime Sauce, Phad Thai Tom Yum With Seafood, and Grilled Pork Neck.

Location: 01-02, 57 South Bridge Road

Opening Hours: 11am to 3pm and 6 to 10pm (Tuesdays to Sundays)

Info: Call 6787-8575, e-mail letseat@unyangkordai.com or go to www.unyangkordai.com

Sources: The Straits Times, Official UNYUNGKORDAI Facebook Page, GreatNewPlaces.com, Burpple.com

The Tale of the Nang Fish

Why does the Pa Nang have only one ribcage?

It’s just one fish among many in the traditional cuisine of Laos, but the Pa Nang has one physical characteristic that sets it apart – just half a ribcage.

And while there is likely a convincing scientific explanation for this arresting detail, the folklore that has sprung up around the Pa Nang – which translates directly as “Lady Fish” – is far more interesting.

What would you do if you knew that you were the only one who could stop an impending war between two rival kingdoms? This was the quandary in which one fabled princess found herself so long ago, whose noble but tragic decision not only brought peace throughout the land, but also gave birth to an entire species.

Long, long ago, our ancestors spoke of a beautiful and magical princess, whose comeliness and virtue were reminiscent of those of the legendary Nang Soumountha. It was said that whoever was honorable enough to wed the princess would bring tremendous prosperity and richness to his people. Her beauty spread far and wide across the many kingdoms, finally capturing the hearts of two valiant princes of two of the most powerful kingdoms in all the land.

Upon hearing of the other’s intention of courting the princess, each prince fervently mobilised his army to wage war against the other in the name of love. No side could bear the shame of losing the princess to the other without a fight.

Realising that neither side would yield, the princess, in a selflessly heroic move, sacrificed her own life to save the thousands that would die in warfare. Before her untimely death, she instructed her trusted aides to halve her body and offer one side each to both princes.

“I wholly (and/or half-ly) give myself to both of you, whom I adore and love equally. My last request is to throw each half of me into each of your respective Kingdom’s rivers. This way, I shall bring richness to both your lands.”

The princes woefully did as they had been instructed. Once each half had been submerged into the water, it magically became a fish, and like the form from which it came, had only half of a ribcage.

While neither prince had intended to bring harm to the princess, they were most certainly blinded by love, each galvanised by his own interpretation of the infamous ‘if I can’t have you, no one will’ mantra. In the end, the princess had lived up to what she had promised. The fish replenished the rivers and provided sustenance to the peoples of both kingdoms and the land was showered with prosperity for years to come.

In her last moments, the princess must have thought to herself “if neither can have me, at least everyone else will.

This is how the fish got its name, Pa Nang (translated literally as “Lady Fish”). And that is why this particular species of fish has only half a ribcage, because of the fabled sacrifice so long ago.

The Pa Nang has been enjoyed by the Lao people for generations. It is generally prepared boiled or fried and can be had on any occasion. A fresh dish of fried Pa Nang is available at the famous Kualao Restaurant. Don’t forget to take a look at the half ribcage!

 

Originally Published in: Champa Meuanglao

Koreans Bring Lao Cuisine to Korea

Newly opened Lao Piak is one of only 2 Laotian restaurants in Seoul

Two young women in their early 30s have been close friends since college. Both graduated from high school in Korea and went on to the University of Virginia in the United States, where they first met. When they graduated, they both went into television ― one became a TV presenter and the other a producer at major local broadcasters.

They prepared for the TV jobs together and kept in close touch and traveled together when they started working. After five years in their respective positions, they both quit. 

Kicking their established jobs to the curb, the two women set out on a completely new, risky adventure to open a Laotian restaurant called “Lao Piak” on a tranquil street in Mangwon-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul. One year into its opening, the restaurant is a success. 

Lao Piak’s beef tendon noodles with homemade chili sauce / Korea Times photo by Yun Suh-young

It all began when the two went on vacation together two years ago to Laos, a country that had been gaining hype on television. 

“We went to Vientiane and Luang Prabang in Laos. It was our first time in the country. We decided on Laos because it was close to Thailand and Vietnam and had similar food. It was also after Flowers Over Youth ended with its episode on Laos. That triggered our interest,” said Chung Hyo-yeol, co-owner of Lao Piak and the former TV presenter. Piak refers to noodles in soup in Laotian.

“After traveling to Laos, we were mesmerized by the country and wanted to introduce Laotian cuisine in Seoul. Three months after the trip, we both quit our jobs and went back to Laos to learn Laotian cuisine from locals. On that trip we included Vang Vieng to the two previous locations and stayed for a month.”

They ended up spending three months in the country on three return trips to learn local recipes.

“It was difficult to find locals in the city to teach us the recipes. They were wary. But those in the countryside were more open. Our recipes are from them,” said Won Sung-hoon, co-owner of Lao Piak and former producer at Olive, a local lifestyle and food cable channel. 

Co-owners of Lao Piak Won Sung-hoon, left, and Chung Hyo-yeol / Korea Times photo by Yun Suh-young

The two’s radical transformation from producer and presenter to chef-owners brought resistance from their families. 

“Mine wouldn’t see me until the restaurant opened. Sung-hoon and I are as close as sisters so we decided to live together above the restaurant. It’s less tiring for us,” said Chung.

“My family is used to my radical transformation due to a past experience _ when I switched from a biology major to becoming a producer. When they heard I was planning to open a restaurant, they were less surprised,” said Won. 

Laotian food is much influenced by neighbors Thailand and Vietnam and vice versa. It also uses a lot of ingredients from the neighboring countries. Laotian staples are steamed sticky rice and larb which is a spicy marinated meat or fish mixture. The papaya salad dish, better known as som tam in the West, is also a Laotian invention. 

“Because of the low quality of beef in Laos due to geographical reasons, they use more pork and chicken. Their noodle soup is popular among Koreans. The noodles are made with glutinous rice, but it’s not the same as rice noodles in Korea. There’s a dish called khao piak which is popular. Khao means rice, and piak is noodle soup,” said Won, who is in charge of the noodle soup, whereas Chung is in charge of anything fried. 

“Our noodles are handmade. We each take turns making them. It’s on limited availability because we can only make a handful by ourselves.” 

The two are the only chefs at the restaurant. In the beginning they did everything from cooking to serving. Now they have a few part-time servers to help out. 

Lao Piak’s pork larb / Korea Times photo by Yun Suh-young

“Here, we create two types of stock ― beef and chicken. We tried for three months to get this right,” said Chung. 

What they learned in Laos is that they like spicy food, contrary to Vietnamese or Thai. 

“We were surprised how much chili sauce they put in the soup ― until it’s red. So we created our own chili sauce,” said Won. “We also want to introduce a dish called Khao poon, a rice vermicelli soup, mostly eaten at weddings. They use coconut milk and ox blood. It might not be liked by Koreans, but we want to introduce foods like this.”

The two didn’t do any marketing but people line up to get a bite. The Laotian Embassy in Korea became a big fan. A contributing factor is the style and decor of the restaurant, which the two put a lot of legwork into.

“We brought in almost everything from Laos ― plates, accessories and decorations and planned the interior concept,” said Chung.

Luckily it caught people’s eyes who were passing by. The street is rather remote from the central hip region, which is why it is surprising that it would attract so many people. 

“A lot of locals started paying visits and now weekdays are packed with locals and weekends with young people from elsewhere.”

Here are some pictures from Lao Piak’s Official Instagram Page.

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Written by: Yun Suh-Young
Originally published in this  Korea Times article entitled ‘Two female entrepreneurs’ delicious adventure’