Take to the water for a great meal in Pakxe

The Mekong Lanexang is a well-known restaurant in Pakxe, the capital of Champassak province, and is located on a boat on the Mekong River offering Lao, Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese dishes.
The restaurant is well designed and looks very colourful at night when it’s lit up with strings of coloured lights.
It’s a great place for people to gather for a satisfying meal and watch the sunset.

A fish dish is one of the many excellent platters available.

I went there last week after being advised to do so by the owner of the guesthouse where I was staying.
I thought I’d just go there for a drink and was worried that it would be hard to find. But I had no trouble locating it because it was the first restaurant I saw on the Mekong River, conveniently located by the Pakxong junction.
I planned to spend a short time there nursing a bottle of Beerlao and watching the sunset, but the view and the atmosphere were so enjoyable and the food looked so good that I thought I would stay a while longer.
It’s not ideal being alone in a restaurant but by chance I fell into conversation with the manager, Mr None Bounta, who is also a master chef.
He told me the restaurant opened in 2008 when it served Lao and Thai food which suited customers’ needs at that time.
But then they started getting Chinese and Vietnamese visitors as well, both tourists and people living in the area. Fortunately Mr None had previously worked as a chef in a restaurant serving Chinese and Vietnamese food, and knew how to cook popular dishes from these countries.
The most popular items on the menu are the fresh fish from Mekong such as koi, and soup, but a lot of people also order the banana flower salad.
Seafood is another top favourite and is ordered mostly by Lao people, with the ingredients imported from Thailand.
The restaurant opens late at 9pm and the kitchen closes at 10:30pm. All food should be paid for by midnight but customers can stay longer if they wish.
“There are many things that customers like about our restaurant but of course the first thing is the food. They also come here for the ambience and enjoy being on the river where they can eat outdoors and feel the breeze coming over the water. It’s perfect for people who want a nice view while they’re eating, with the sunset and the reflection that colours the river red,” Mr None said.
The boat has two levels. The first offers private rooms and karaoke for people coming for a special event and can accommodate 150 people, while the second level is open seating.
The Chinese, Vietnamese and European diners often order Lao food so the waiters must ask them if they like it spicy. The waiters must also let the management know which country the diners are from because the chefs are familiar with their tastes.
“We also tell customers they can ask us to cook the dish again if they’re not happy with it but we’ve never had any complaints yet,” Mr None said.
Mr None himself is prepared to cook for Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese diners but he leaves the Lao dishes to the Lao chef, knowing that he will make a better job of it and keep customers satisfied.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update November 24, 2018)

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