By: Nicole Long- Laos Country Director
L’Estranger , Book and Tea
Kingkitsarath Road. Next to Lao Lao Garden and Hive Bar
Luang Prabang, Laos
What was ordered:
Salsa and Chips
Chicken Soft Tacos
I decided to review the little café and book shop, L’Estranger because it is currently the only one of its kind in Luang Prabang. Sure there are a numerous cafes you can pop into for a delicious cup of joe or a tasty pastry but none of them offer book browsing/shopping.
L’Etranger is owned by the same couple that runs Hive Bar (next door and offers nightly Ethnic Fashion and/or local hip hop dance shows) and the Kop Noi handicraft shop. It has been around for years and is a little hole in the wall, which can be overlooked unless you keep your eyes peeled. In the evening it is usually overshadowed by the local bar scene flanking the shop, but during the day it much more pleasant with an outside patio for people watching or reading a book.
The shop offers good deals on used books and will even negotiate trading/buying some of the ones you have been lugging around for weeks. If you are second guessing not picking up a travel guide book before you left home, you will likely be able to find one here for any of the SE Asian countries for a reasonable price as well as find other pieces on the region.
There are a few other book shops in town but none offer a food and drink. Their menu is not extensive but they do have some items that are rare to Luang Prabang and it is the main reason I decided to check it out.
People always ask me what I miss most about living in Laos after living in New York City for six years. Before they can even finish the question, I blurt out, “MEXICAN FOOD” (while literally drooling at the mouth)! I may have never been to Mexico or even the west coast of the USA (I know, I know, something is wrong with me), but I do know that Mexican food is my favorite and I will try anything that is remotely related to it.
So, I had to have the Salsa with homemade tortilla-esque chips and Chicken soft tacos. I don’t even know if I actually tasted anything because I inhaled it all so fast! I loved it! Now, maybe the sour cream was more like a yogurt cream and the cheese could have been shredded but I can tell you that my mouth and belly were muy contento. The chicken was cooked to perfection with spices, onions and peppers. And to top it off there was an actual tortilla and jalapeños!
The salsa was more on the pico de gallo side, but it was refreshing and the homemade chips were close enough. For dessert I had the Chai Tea and it was amazing! Again, you can’t find that anywhere else here in Luang Prabang. It was a big cup of cinnamon comfort and will be perfect for the “winter” season.
You may not be looking for Mexican while in Luang Prabang and may be more into scouting out local spots, but this is a great place to grab a snack or coffee while reloading on your reading material. And if you’re longing for a good movie night, check out the little blackboard on the front door where they list the movie they will screen that evening upstairs from the book shop.
Check out more places to dine in and around Luang Prabang here: