Umami Mart Sake
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CH and I just got married, and we traveled around Southeast Asia for our honeymoon. It was an epic trip, for two weeks, and I'll be writing about the highlights. Luang Prabang, the former capital of Laos, was our last stop. Luang Prabang and its sleepy old quarter, located on a peninsula wedged between the modest Nam Khan river and massive Mekong river, is a World Heritage Site.

The Nam Khan.

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The Mekong from the highest temple in the city.

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It is one of these places you can just relax, take a day trip out to a waterfall, fool around with elephants, hole up and write your book, eat the freshest fruit, and take a bike ride wherever you please.

Every morning we awoke to see long-tail boats hauling Luang Prabangers up and down and across the milk-chocolate colored river, and ate the most amazing french breakfasts, like Birtcher Muesli every morning.

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Thai orange juice: the MacDaddy (or Daddy Mac) of fresh sweet orangeness!

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Fresh fruit.

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It's a town where every sunrise, hundreds of orange-robed Monks proceed through town to collect carefully prepared alms donated by loyal families in the community.

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Family members line up and down the street to give their donation to each and every monk in form of one small dollop of sticky rice. By the end of the procession, each young monk has an entire offering bowl filled with sticky rice prepared by the hands of every local family in the community. In this way each family is responsible for the daily sustenance of these bald-headed gentlemen.

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The dedicated community has given alms in this way for ages, and really is the main support for the boys in orange.

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Later that night, where we snapped our photos of the monks at sunrise, we find the Tamarind restaurant packed. Tamarind is known on the peninsula for having real deal Laotian food. Unlike the watered down more milky, coconutty, Thai-like "Lao" food they try to pass off down the main streets, Tamarind keeps it real, and their incredibly informative menu tells you so.

The menu, like a guide book to the city and restaurant, gives pointers on everything from how to eat with you hands (hell yes!), what to order, how to treat monks, and of course a careful push toward their national BEER LAO.

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The best damn lager I've had in a year. Period.

Beer Lao was simple, thirst quenching, and matched the sticky rice and Lao platter of fried Mekong sea(river?)weed with sesame, pork sausage, green eggplant, tomato dip, and water buffalo jerky perfectly.

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The water buffalo jerky pictured on the right is heartier than your traditional beef jerky.

Bamboo soup.

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Fried lemongrass stuffed with minced chicken.

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Water buffalo sausage is soft, moist, bread-like and heavy.

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After the Tamarind we got foot and leg beatings (massages) and staggered to the Night Market.

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CH was confused as a local more than once during our stay.

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The street was full of hundreds of booths selling handicrafts, where unlike other southeastern countries, we were not hassled to “buy from me!” by every adorable brown eyed, yet business savvy, Laotian girl. On the other side of the Night Market is a bakery sells their goods outside, like a junior high bake sale.

A day later we crossed over the Nam Khan river on a surprisingly sturdy bamboo bridge.

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The bridge to Dyen Sabai cafe.

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Dyen Sabai cafe is a terraced restaurant that overlooks the river and mountains-- so damn relaxing. The restaurant is spread along the hillside where patrons are found sitting on cushions, napping, checking email, playing board games, or sipping on beers or juice blends.

Aside from the loud Italian ladies playing Jenga, it couldn't have been more chill.

Freshly fished and fried with garlic shallots.

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Fried garlic porn.

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Morning Glory stir fried with garlic oyster sauce.

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The Lao Platter again, but this time even more delicious with peanuts and green beans.

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The beer was cold, with a diverse Laoatian menu. Dyen Sabai was our pick for best dish during our entire stay in Luang Prabang, with their incredibly fresh river fish, Lao platter, and warm sticky rice.

Luang Prabang was exactly  what we needed after our crazy awesome wedding. We ate and rested, and read our books in paradise.

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Column: Super Faminto
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6 comments

  • Awesome. Loved Luang Prabang when we were there.

    Cheers

    Matt on

  • you know it.

    Bryan Sanders on

  • Yummmmm….now we have to put Tamarind on our to-do list for Asia. Those are amazing food pics. It sounds like you and CH had a delicious honeymoon!

    Karin on

  • These are amazing pictures! Makes me want to jet out to there right now. Amazing article!

    Carol on

  • Man, loved ‘the bang’ when I went, and this post made me nostalgic. I wanted to buy everything at the night market!

    aiko on

  • Wow!!! Amazing trip. Amazing pictures….

    Si on

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