Sticky rice (khao niaw) can be a meal in itself but is also eaten with accompanying sauces and side dishes. You will find this is the go-to staple of Laos and eaten daily. Soups and stews are also common, with noodle soup being a particular favourite that is consumed at any time of day, including breakfast.
In terms of the flavours to expect, Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese cuisine has had a heavy influence. In contrast to these spicy noodle and rice-based dishes, Laos also lives with the legacy of its French rule in the 1900s. Consequently, khao jee (baguettes) filled with meat, vegetables and chili paste are found all over the country. Laap or larb is another popular meal; a salad consisting of ground meat, with a lime, garlic and herb dressing, mixed with roasted rice. Tam mak houng (papaya salad) is also worth tasting, combining shredded papaya with fish sauce, chilies and lime juice, among other ingredients, and served with noodles. Barbecued meat and grilled river fish eaten from bamboo skewers, giant fried prawns with spring rolls, and kaipen - sundried sheets of freshwater green algae and sprinkled with sesame seeds - add to the snack list.
When it comes to desserts, sticky rice once again dominates where it is typically combined with mango, coconut or banana to make a variety of treats. Banana rice pudding, baked coconut rice pudding, coconut dumplings, coconut custard cake, and a vast range of tropical fruits also make fabulous desserts.