30+ Lao Restaurant Vocabulary: A Dish Of Useful Words And Phrases

Lao Restaurant Vocabulary-ling-app-temple market

Are you tired of ordering your Laos street food by just pointing and grunting? Want to impress your Lao friends with your sophisticated Lao restaurant vocabulary? Look no further, because in this article, we’ll teach you how to order your papaya salad like a pro and tell the waiter to keep the bamboo shoots coming!

I’ve traveled a lot through Southeast Asia, and Laos has rapidly taken the place of one of my favorite countries in this area. Despite having so many great qualities, like the people that are some of the nicest and most welcoming that I’ve ever met, or the landscape that is simply breathtaking, what really made Laos climb the ladder in my destination ranking was the Lao cuisine. Delicious, tasty and simple, Lao gastronomy is everything your mouth may be looking for!

Currently, I can easily order whatever I want in Laos, however, this was not always the case as I’ve passed through some complications in this beautiful country.

When I first traveled to Laos, I was excited to try all the delicious street food and traditional dishes the country had to offer. I knew there was an incredible array of food offered in the country and I just wanted to try it all! However, my excitement quickly turned to frustration as I struggled to communicate with the vendors and waiters. I would point at menu items and use basic phrases like “I want this” or “How much?”, but my orders would often come out wrong.

One particularly embarrassing moment was when I ordered what I thought was a simple tofu dish, but ended up with a plate of fried insects. I don’t think you can imagine my face when the lovely lady from the restaurant brought to me my order. I was so surprised that I didn’t know how to react and I ended up just eating it with a smile on my face, not wanting to cause any fuss.

It wasn’t until I started speaking a bit of the Lao language that I was able to fully appreciate the country’s culinary offerings. It was around this time that I started getting and eating what I actually ordered!

I really felt that I was fluent in Lao when I went to a restaurant with my Lao friends and was able to order for the whole table. Oh, the happiness and pride! I felt like a true local after 3 months of living in the country!

Well, this can also happen to you! If you’re planning on visiting Lao and don’t want to waste time with the wrong order, then why not learn a few terms that you can use during your next meal? It will not only make your dining experience more enjoyable, but it will also help you to avoid any unintentional insect consumption.

Lao Restaurant Vocabulary-Laos Landscape

Lao Restaurant Vocabulary – Before The Meal

Hello, Are You Open?

Translation: ສະບາຍດີ, ເຈົ້າເປີດບໍ?

In Lao you’ll most likely end up eating street food from local vendors and markets, so you’ll pretty much understand if something is open or not, however sometimes you might want to treat yourself to a meal a bit different and try a local restaurant. When getting to the restaurant use the phrase sabaidi, chao poed bo to see if you have a chance of trying that Khao Sri you were dreaming of for days!

Do You Have A Table For Two?

Translation: ເຈົ້າມີໂຕະສອງຄົນບໍ?

If you’re taking someone on a first date to a Lao restaurant, first of all, Kudos for the gastronomical choice. Second of all, use the phrase chao mi to songkhon bo when you’re looking to cozy up with your significant other or bestie at a nice restaurant in Laos.

Can We Have The Menu? 

Translation: ສາມາດໃຫ້ເຮືອນອາຫານໄດ້ບໍ່?

Time to choose which of the Lao delicacies you’re going to have along with a Beer Lao. Use the phrase samad hai heuon ahan daibo to ask for the menu and decide your treat.

Where Is The Bathroom?

Translation: ຫ້ອງ້​ນໍາຢູ່ໃສ

Use the phrase Hong nam yu sai? when you’ve had too much sticky rice or Lao whiskey and desperately need to find the nearest lavatory.

Lao Restaurant Vocabulary-Lao Spicy food

Can You Make The Food Not Spicy?

Translation: ເຈົ້າສາມາດເຮັດໃຫ້ອາຫານບໍ່ເຜັດໄດ້ບໍ?

Besides being tasty, Lao food is known for being spicy. Use the phrase chao samad hedhai ahan bo phed daibo when you’re a spice wimp and can’t handle the heat.

Can We Order Food?

Translation: ພວກເຮົາສາມາດສັ່ງອາຫານໄດ້ບໍ?

You’ve chosen what you’re having and are too excited to wait. Call your waiter’s attention and say phuakhaosamad sang ahan daibo to make your order.

This Is Our 3rd Time Here

Translation: ນີ້ແມ່ນເທື່ອທີ 3 ຂອງພວກເຮົາຢູ່ທີ່ນີ້

Use the phrase niaemntheuothi 3  khongphuakhao yuthini when you’re a regular and want to show off to the staff how much you love their food.

Lao Restaurant Vocabulary-Lao Cuisine

Lao Restaurant Vocabulary – During The Meal

This Is Not What I Ordered

Translation: ນີ້ບໍ່ແມ່ນສິ່ງທີ່ຂ້ອຍສັ່ງ

You’ll find yourself in need of the phrase niboaemn singthi khony sang especially during the initial period of your trip when your Lao is still a bit rusty.

Everything Was Great

Translation: ທຸກສິ່ງທຸກຢ່າງແມ່ນຍິ່ງໃຫຍ່

Remember this: thuksingthukyang aemn nyinghainy. This is the phrase you’ll want to use after having a delicious Hua Moo in Luang Prabang.


Lao Restaurant Vocabulary – After The Meal

Can We Have The Check?

Translation: ພວກເຮົາສາມາດກວດໄດ້ບໍ?

Don’t be afraid to ask for the check, use the phrase phuakhaosamad kuad daibo and see how cheap your delicious meal was!

We’ll Come Back For Sure!

Translation: ພວກເຮົາຈະກັບມາແນ່ນອນ!

Use the phrase phuakhao chakabma aennon when you’ve had a great experience and want to let the staff know you’ll be back.

Thank You!

Translation: ຂອບໃຈ

The most basic and probably the most important phrase you’ll use during your entire meal is khop jai. After you’ve finished your meal drop another khop jai to thank them for the great meal!

Lao Restaurant Vocabulary-Street Vendors in Laos

Other Useful Lao Phrases & Vocabulary

I’m vegetarianຂ້ອຍເປັນຜັກKhony penphak
I’m veganຂ້ອຍເປັນ veganKhonypen vegan
I don’t eat…ຂ້ອຍ​ບໍ່​ກິນ…Khony bo kin
I can’t eat…ຂ້ອຍກິນບໍ່ໄດ້…Khony kin bodai
I’m allergic to…ຂ້ອຍມີອາການແພ້…Khony mioakanaeph
ChocolateຊັອກໂກແລັດSaok ok laed
GlutenກລູເຕນKlu ten
ReceiptໃບຮັບເງິນBai habngoen
To orderສັ່ງSang
To payຈ່າຍChai
How much is it?ລາຄາເທົ່າໃດLaka Tao dai
Lao Restaurant Vocabulary-lao street food

Best Lao Dishes To Remember

  • Khao Niew (Sticky Rice) – This is the base for every dish in Laos, as it is one of the first dishes Lao women learn to make. It’s a type of glutinous rice that is steamed in a bamboo basket and traditionally eaten by hand.
  • Jaew Bong (Hot Pepper Dip) – Spicy and flavourful dip that can be used as a condiment for meats or vegetables.
  • Sai Oua (Herbal Pork Sausage) – This is a traditional Laotian sausage made with ground pork and a variety of herbs and spices. It’s often grilled and eaten as a snack or used in salads and soups.
  • Tam Muk Muang (Green-Mango Salad) – Also called Green-papa salad, this dish is famous both in Laos and Thailand, however, the Lao version is made with unripe yellow mango. It’s a refreshing and spicy dish that is perfect for a hot day.
  • Naem Khao (Crispy Coconut Rice) – A specialty of Vientiane, this dish is a mixture of salt-cured ground pork, pig skin, steamed and dried white rice, and dried shredded coconut, which adds texture and body while also soaking up the fish sauce and lime juice.
  • Laab Ped (Minced Duck Salad) – Commonly called the national dish of Laos, laab (frequently seen on Thai-restaurant menus as “larb”) is essentially a salad made from ground meat and herbs, laced with fish sauce and lime juice and topped with a powder made from dry ground rice.
  • Khao Soi (Rice Noodle Soup With Fermented Soybean-Tomato Sauce) – Another dish shared with the neighbor Thailand, Khao Soi is made with rice noodles, chicken, and a fermented soybean-tomato sauce. It’s a comforting and delicious dish.
  • Gaeng Som (Chicken Soup With Fish Sauce and Tamarind) – This is a traditional Laotian soup made with chicken, fish sauce, tamarind, and a variety of vegetables.
  • Piing Hua Jai Kai (Grilled Chicken Hearts) – This dish is made by grilling chicken heart skewers and it’s a popular street food in Laos. It’s a delicious and savory dish that is perfect as a snack or appetizer.
  • Muu Som (Rice-Fermented Sour Pork) – This is a traditional Laotian dish made by fermenting pork in rice and it’s often eaten as a snack or used in salads and soups.
Learn Lao with Ling App

Learn More Lao With The Ling App

If you’ve reached this far, you’re ready to stimulate your taste buds with the incredible dishes of the Land of Smiles! But why stop there?

Laos is much more than its food, and for you to really immerse yourself in the culture of this beautiful country, you have to understand its history and traditions.

What better way to start than to learn the national language? And this is where the Ling app enters to save the day!

The Ling app is a language learning application that is here to help you improve your language skills in over 60 languages from around the world. This application makes the process of learning fun and like a game! You’ll enrich vocabulary, improve grammar, and practice pronunciation through games, puzzles, and quizzes that were developed by language experts and native speakers.

The Ling app is available anytime, anywhere, sitting perfectly on your phone for you to access whenever your desire kicks in. Just turn on your phone, connect to Ling App and start learning!

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