In the city of Vientiane, the Mekong Promenade is wide, the river being very low during dry season and during the day the promenade is peaceful and quiet. You kind of wonder where is everyone? But come sunset, pop up bars and restaurants line the streets and finding a good spot to watch the changing sky is easy.
Just before another pink sunset, we find ourselves at Joy Restaurant on the Mekong Promenade. The colourful display of food entices us and after a Beer Lao or two, we choose a few dishes by physicall pointing instead of choosing from the printed menu. It’s so much better to be able to select from a kitchen rather than trusting translated menus. This allows you to order dishes that look good on that day rather than picking your usual favourites.
The wiggling bits coming out of the shells told me that the cockles are still alive. The prawns looked particularly plump. The Koala had never tried cockles before and it’s a novelty to get them at all let alone fresh fresh fresh so we got an order of cockles and an order of prawns.
Open cockle on top of a basket of sticky rice. The cockles were both sweet and savoury and went down perfectly with Beer Lao.
Grilled Laos Sausage in the foreground and a piece of bbq duck in the background. The duck was really different than the Chinese bbq style that I’m used to. This was really tastey and the meat texture was kind of waxy. The sausages were divine with spices and herbs cooked through.
These 7 large prawns were the highlight of the night. Big, meaty, salt crusted. They were so good, The Koala believed it was the right thing to do to recommend this dish to diners that were ordering next to us.
The bill for this riverside dinner of cockles, Laos sausage, prawns, duck, sticky rice and Beer Lao came to 127,000 kip / $20NZ / $16US.
After dinner, we had a cocktail at a local upstairs bar. It had a nice view over the river and though it wasn’t glaringly obvious at first, we realised that all the ladies in the bar were working girls and most of the men in the bar were paying tourists. I felt uncomfortable being perhaps the only asian woman there that was not for sale. It’s not that I felt unsafe since The Koala was there with me, it was just too seedy. Funny thing was I was wearing a hat similar to the man we decided was the pimp. After a bit of people watching (because it is rather interesting), our suspicions were confirmed and we made our way home.
Mekong Promenade Highlights:
- The prawns.
- So much variety of food to choose from.
- Walking through the kitchen area to get to the seats means that you can check out the bounty before sitting down.
- Tables and chairs on the riverside or ground level cushion seats and low tables for those that want a more horizontal evening.
- I noticed I wasn’t the only one taking photos of food. Love it when that happens!
Mekong Promenade Tips:
- Take your time ordering. Soak in the atmosphere, relax on a few Beer Lao, you can even order food to snack on if you don’t really feel like a full dinner.
- Do away with the menu and go up to the kitchen and point to what looks fresh.
- Toilets but they are a block or so away and you have to pay for them. So make your way to the bathroom before you are busting and take money with you.
- Mosquitos weren’t much of a problem here. Maybe due to the dry season.