Date Traveled, August 2012
Les 3 Nagas was where I had my first taste of Lao cuisine. It was my first and best meal in Laos and set the standard against which I started to compare all the other restaurants I ate in. While I had great food in Laos, no where else quite compared to the food at the Les 3 Nagas restaurant in Luang Prabang.
Les 3 Nagas is a boutique hotel located on Ban Vatnong, Sakkaline road, in the historic district of Luang Prabang. It is on the quieter end of the Luang Prabang peninsula that roughly makes up the historic district between the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers. It is the same road where the night market is by the main Royal palace, Sisavangvong road, which eventually becomes Sakkaline as you move away from the hubbub of the night market. Like the rest of Luang Prabang away from the night market in the historic quarter, the streets are quite and dimly lit. It does help to carry a flashlight when walking around there after dark but no need to be too concerned about safety beyond normal precautions. The town is generally a very safe place for residents and tourists alike. The restaurant at Les 3 Nagas is located on the porch and courtyard of the hotel amidst a pretty little garden with a few tall trees.
Les 3 Nagas
Our first Beer Laos!
Les 3 Nagas has a reputation for serving fine Lao cuisine that is pretty authentic if not as spicy as traditional Lao cooking. They are also comfortably in the range of fine dining in Luang Prabang. My meal for two cost about $65 US, which is pricey by Luang Prabang standards but was absolutely worth it. We were seated on the porch overlooking the garden and were served by very helpful staff who took time to explain what the dishes on the menu were and also explained a bit of Lao cuisine in general. Given that this was our first taste of Lao food, this was certainly helpful. I also had my first taste of the legendary Beer Lao here, so even more fond memories.
Mok Pa in banana leaves and sticky rice
After some discussion with our server, we decided to try a few dishes, the two main ones being the Mok Pa or Lao fish steamed and served in banana leaves and the Lao national dish, Larb. Larb is a Lao minced meat salad typically seasoned and flavored with spices some kind of fish paste or sauce. It makes for a great meal at any time of the day and over the course of my holiday in Laos I would invariably order Larb wherever I went, even as a little snack while enjoying a Beer Lao in the hot afternoon. Each time I was hoping to taste the Larb I had at Les 3 Nagas and sadly nothing could quite match the perfect mix of the taste, flavor, spiciness and the cook of the meat of the Larb there. The Mok Pa was also soft and tender and delicious. We ate our meal with khao niao or Lao sticky rice served in little bamboo baskets which was also excellent. We ordered the red variety but there are other ones to pick from as well.
I wish I had made another trip to this fine restaurant before I left Luang Prabang, but at that time I was also intent on trying different places to eat. So will go again the next time I am in town.