During my recent five-night stay in Luang Prabang, I made the choice of dining at the Apsara four of those five nights! It is that good! Yes, I know: Doing so greatly reduces my ability to draw and illustrate comparisons with restaurants there. But doing that is not my intention. Rather, I just wish to commend this one, really quite fine dining room.
Firstly, the room is tastefully decorated and quite inviting through the wide-opened folding doors of the front. Terrace seating is available, with the main room only just a few steps beyond. The dining area flows easily from ‘outside to inside’.
The serving staff is considerably well-trained and carries-out their functions with care, friendliness, and professionalism. Each of the servers speaks English (and one French, I understand), so you will have no difficulty with any communication about the menu. I found them to be cordial and very well-informed on the menu and able to discuss the dishes with you. As I said --- well trained and professional!
The Apsara’s menu is concise, with carefully chosen “small plates” and “large plates”. Even though the choices are concise, the menu offers an enticing range of options. During my four evenings with them, I repeated only with one of the soups and again (several times!) with their wonderful ice cream.
On the first visit, I chose two ‘small plates’: house smoked fish / carrot, lemongrass and ginger soup. The smoked fish is quite an aggressive taste, but yet most delectable. The betel leaf, Lao herbs, and chili relish really activate the senses. The soup is, contrastingly, smooth and consoling with rich flavor. The honey and ginger ice cream brought the meal toward a concluding aggressive taste. A very nice rounding of flavors.
In the second evening, I enjoyed the buffalo cheeks with chili caramel and cabbage salad. As other reviewers have noted, the buffalo cheeks are really quite, quite good. And the cabbage salad provides a nice sharp flavored aside to the tender, smooth, almost velvet of the buffalo and its caramel sauce. This evening I discovered the remarkable flavor of their coconut ice cream, which quickly became my favorite.
For the third evening, I selected Lao tomato salad with betel leaf and fresh herbs. It was quite satisfying and recommended. For the “large plate” I chose fettuccine with home-made pork sausage. Normally, I am not that much of a ‘meat-eater’, usually choosing vegetables and grains, but with the great flavor of the beef cheeks from the night before still in my taste buds’ memory, I thought I would discover the pork sausage. Oh my, what a marvelous taste! This “home-made” was made very well!
By the fourth night, I decided on a simple meal for my last with them. I returned to the carrot, lemongrass, and ginger soup, and concluding with (again!) the coconut ice cream.
At the Apsara, I found time-and-again, a high level of flavoring; careful thought as to items and their pairings; and always, consistent execution. Combine the efforts of the kitchen with the cordial, professional, and high quality service from the ‘front of the house’, and you have quite a fine restaurant. You have the Apsara!
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