Mekong River Dining

Photos by MJ Klein

Hui-chen and I have had the pleasure of dining along the Mekong river on both the Thai and Lao sides. The cuisine of both northern Thailand and southern Laos is incredible, but along the border you can get an interesting mix of those 2 cuisine types, plus also some Vietnamese food too. So come and join us while we show you some of the dishes and also take this as a warning: food photos to follow!


The opening photo was taken on the Laos side of the Mekong river. Going to Laos is very easy and there are many ways of getting there from Thailand. However, many people just go up to the border for an afternoon without actually crossing into Laos.

Our restaurant had some incredible views of the mountains that abound in this area of northern Thailand, called Loei. The river boat is winding around the sandbar that formed at a bend in the Mekong.

These river boats are one of the mainstays of public transportation in southern Laos. Look closely (check out the large view) and you will see people seated on furniture that they are taking with them on the roof of the boat. We’ve seen everything from motorcycles to livestock being transported on the Mekong. In many places in Laos, the roads are in such bad shape that even though it takes longer, the river route is a lot more pleasant.

First up is fried Mekong river fish with a sesame sauce. This was a mild, flavorful dish with a side of pickles that complimented the fried fish very well.

Thailand style fried rice. We always enjoy the fresh sliced cucumbers that accompany fried rice dishes in Thailand. Rather ordinary in appearance, this dish was very well prepared and not too oily.

As readers of our blog know, Hui-chen and I love the Issan area of Thailand. This was my favorite dish at this restaurant: Issan style appetizers. Starting at 1:00 and working around the dish clockwise, we see:

  1. Sliced lemongrass.
  2. Diced garlic.
  3. Diced white onion.
  4. Diced ginger.
  5. Sliced hot chili peppers.
  6. Cooked shrimp.
  7. Sliced grilled pork.
  8. Issan sausages (my favorite!)
  9. Diced cucumber.

In the center are chips made from (I presume) rice flour. One takes a chip, or a leafy vegetable and loads it up with combinations of items and then sits back to enjoy the assault on the taste buds! I really like how the different combinations make for entirely different taste sensations.

Shrimp cakes with a distinctly Thai sweet & sour sauce. There weren’t enough of these!

This dish was so good that it was almost gone before I could get a photo of it! This one shows the Chinese cooking style influence. Mushrooms and garlic with scallions is such a simple dish, but along the Mekong river, it’s just so good.

Although it doesn’t look like much, this soup, served Thai style in a chimney bowl, was really great. It featured a Mekong river white fish (which we selected from a list of available fish), and Thai spices. This soup was not spicy hot with chili like many other Thai soups are, such as “tom yum” but rather reflected the gentler spices of northern Thailand.

Hui-chen and I miss this area and we hope to be back there soon, enjoying the fine cuisine and company of our Thai and Lao friends.

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  1. MJ. I love the pictures of the food. I am lucky as I don’t have to travel too far to experience it. I love Mekong fish. Absolutely delicious. As for the mushroom dish, well probably my favourite. This dish is just to hard to explain how good it tastes.

    The Isaan sausage, was it the sour kind. They are very popular. I actually like the bite to it.

    Thanks for the warning but it didn’t help I am still hungry.

    Jason Brunt’s last blog post..Thailand. Judging English Project Work.

  2. oh yeah Brunty, you’re the lucky one who can get all this wonderful food close by! i do like the sour kind of Issan sausage and the good news is there is a place in my neighborhood that sells it occasionally. it’s more expensive here than in Thailand though. take care 🙂

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