When my boss told me I would be travelling to Vientiane last week, my heart immediately jumped out of my chest. A week’s notice? Would I have time to research gluten free foods and places to eat? Did I have a frozen loaf of gluten free bread in the freezer? How much is the luggage allowance?
Knowing that I would be having breakfast at the hotel every morning, I emailed the staff at Salana Boutique Hotel to inform them. They reassured me that they could provide for my gluten free and vegetarian diet. I think this is the way to go when travelling. On the first evening, I ordered room service and they confirmed my dietary needs on the phone.
In the morning they provided a breakfast buffet. I had yogurt with honey and muesli that I brought with me, plus some fresh fruit and cheese. They also provided fresh omelettes, but being a veg, I didn’t order one. They did have some breakfast meats for you meat-eaters out there, but the bacon was sitting on slices of bread!
I stuck with the same rules that I use in Bangkok: anything with a sauce, I asked for no soy sauce (bow oww see ewww – fish sauce ok). When in restaurants, I asked to speak to an English speaking server/manager.
On my first night, I walked through the streets to see how the locals eat – this informs me about ingredients as you usually see them displayed on the roadside.
I was told about Makphat by colleagues in Vientiane, and lucky for me, it was just around the corner from my hotel!
This is a unique restaurant and shop, as it takes kids off the street and teaches them how to cook. The ‘teachers’ educate the students on running a restaurant, serving, etc. as a solution to youth poverty.
When my friends and first arrived, we had a lovely ‘teacher’ server and he spoke very good English. I explained that I could not have bread, or breadcrumbs, wheat flour or soy sauce. He very patiently explained several dishes to me. In the end I opted for the Curried Mushroom & Coconut with rice noodles and Chicken Curry with Pumpkin and Mushrooms (without chicken). The curry came with some rice too. I would recommend ordering half portions as these alone were huge!!
Here is the orange and mango freeze and the hibiscus and lime freeze (both alcohol free).