I went to Amphone on my last night in Vientiane because I wanted to try a specific dish which my guidebook had said that Amphone did well. Instead, I got sidetracked by a few other items on the menu. I went for the steamed fish with herbs wrapped in a banana leaf and the pork stuffed in bamboo shoots.
Let me preface this with the food was, indeed, delicious. It’s just that, well, when it came out, the presentation didn’t quite match what I was expecting based on the menu description. For instance, if the menu says the fish is wrapped in a banana leaf, I kind of expect it to be, y’know, wrapped in a banana leaf. But maybe Amphone figured a piece of fish wrapped in a banana leaf was too difficult to make look presentable on a plate or maybe they figured that their guests would find opening up a banana leaf parcel at the table too cumbersome. Or maybe it never was wrapped in a banana leaf. I don’t know.
It was a similar story with the pork stuffed in bamboo shoots. To be fair, I’m not sure what exactly a bamboo shoot looks like. I mean, I know what it looks like in food normally, but I don’t know if those are smaller strips cut up from a bigger piece. When I read the description for this dish on the menu, I was envisioning a hollow type of bamboo shoot structure with pork stuffed inside. But what actually came out basically looked a lot like laap, but with bamboo shoots mixed in it.
BUT it was all delicious. It all ends up in the same place, anyway, no matter how it is presented on your plate, right? I say give Amphone a try. You will probably find it delicious and the food will be plated well, but don’t be surprised if, with regards to appearance, your expectations and your reality turn out to be quite different.