** Update 2013 – Papaya Restaurant is now closed **
One of our favourite retaurants in Luang Namtha is Papaya Restaurant. In fact some of the best Lao food in town is found at Papaya. Moneylin is a fantastic chef – learning to cook at her families retaurant in Thakek (southern Laos) at the age of 8 and becoming the main chef there for the following 4 years, means that Moneylin’s cooking skills are extremely advanced for her age – which is currently 18. She can certainly teach me a thing or twenty, that’s for sure.
Moneylin manages to combine Luang Namtha jungle herbs and spices together with vegetables, meat, rice noodles or rice to make exceptionally delicious dishes. She uses many different minority tribe’s methods for cooking – including Khmu, Black Tai, Ahka and traditional Lao.
Some dishes you must try at Papaya:
- Akha tomato Jeow (Jeow is a Lao word that kind of means dip – lots of veges and herbs and spices combined to make a chunky sauce for dipping vegetables and sticky rice into)
- Stirfried Bamboo
- Sesame fried rice
- Luang Namtha noodles
- Black Tai scrambled eggs – seriously you will wonder how you got through your whole life without eating scrambled eggs like this!
When you arrive in Luang Namtha all you need to do is take the first right out of town towards the old town (turning at Green Discovery) and the first thing you will find is Papaya Restaurant. A ‘must eat’ place for sure.
Some photos of Moneylin’s fabulous cooking can be found here.