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“Great experience!”

Tamnak Lao Cooking School
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Attraction details
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Reviewed 12 October 2017

I have to say I'm a little baffled by all of the negative reviews on here. I opted to give it a try anyway because it was my last full day in Luang Prabang and the more highly recommended cooking schools were already booked. I'm glad I did! It starts at 1000 which is slightly later than some of the other programs and that worked well for me. We do a market tour in a market off the peninsula but they provide transportation there. Phia traveled around the market with us pointing out all of the ingredients and "fun" items like frogs and dried rats that we don't always get in Western shops. He was very attentive and helpful. Lheng ran around collecting the items we needed for the class. I think it might have been helpful for us to have a list of the items that we would we be using while we were in the market but not a deal breaker. Then we returned to the school and had some tea or coffee as they got organized. It was only three of us so it felt like a private class. They have two dishes that you cook for your lunch and once you've prepared them, you eat and can purchase beer and sodas. After lunch, you see five other dishes and can choose three more to prepare. Because our class was so small, we opted for bringing these three dishes with us instead of sitting longer so class was able to wrap up early and we were released at 1430 with our cookbooks and three meals plus sticky rice with us. I definitely recommend trying this!

Thank Carrie G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 5 August 2017

Following a very yummy dinner at The Three Nagas, we were inspired to learn to cook the local food. The sign for the Tamnak Cooking School is right outside The Three Nagas, so we took the easy way and signed up. SO disappointing. There was no instruction. We stood watching as the "teacher" prepared the dish. Nothing from the instructors - no inspiration, history, background on the recipes, anecdotes ... nothing. As well, standing and watching is boring and hard on the feet. They must have missed market day, because there were very few fresh herbs available for the recipes. The hallmark of Laos dishes is the use of aromatic fresh herbs. No fun, very disappointing.

Thank Nana-Ipo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 July 2017

We signed up for a shorter class - roughly 2.5 hours - which meant we missed the morning market visit but paid less than advertised at other cooking classes in the town. The fun quotient was there - all the ingredients were experimental and interesting - but the food was substandard compared with our general Laos experience. Large amounts of soy sauce and oyster sauce over-salted the dishes, and more fragrant elements like Thai basil, cilantro or lemongrass seemed to be minimized. The chefs were pleasant and friendly, but their cooking seemed more focused on getting the dish done fast rather than making it particularly appetizing. Also not sure about the food hygiene, given that raw chicken was chopped on a small wooden stool that was in bad condition (the leg kept falling off) and hard to see how it's kept sterile. Also didn't get any critical tips, other than removing the spines from the keffir lime leaves, but maybe our class was too short to judge. After we did this, we saw numerous other cooking class offerings in Luang Prabang - would recommend you try others, as the food in the local restaurants was outstanding. This one seems to be owned and operated by an ex-pat who doesn't necessarily appreciate the range of flavours or possibilities. The chefs demonstrated 4 dishes, and allowed us to choose 2 or 3. Although that is an attractive range of choice for an inexpensive outing, think we would have been willing to learn only one, if we could really perfect the flavour combination and presentation.

1  Thank FloraW
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 March 2017

I signed up for the full day cooking class and being a solo traveller was looking forward to a day with fellow cooks. Sadly it was not to be and I was the only one there. On the plus side I got one to one tuition. The day started with a trip to a local market to purchase fresh herbs and vegetables. I was so intrigued by the sights and smells I forgot to take photos so some of the more unusual meats on offer for cooking are a faint memory.

Back at the restaurant I was coached to prepare lunch of Luang Prabang salad and a chicken dish, which I then got to eat. Brilliant. After lunch I was again talked through preparing 5 more dishes including sticky rice. I then got a selection of these to take away for my dinner that evening. The course price includes a cookbook full of informative information about Laos cooking and a copy of all the recipes done that day.

The chef was a good teacher and made me feel very relaxed about what I was doing. An excellent way to learn an appreciate Laos cooking. The recipe book means I will have constant souvenirs of my trip when I start to practice and cook the dishes when I return home.

Thank Carol B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 February 2017

Let's start with the good: Everyone really made their dishes which both helped me learn to cook them, and let me halve the crazy amounts of salt and sugar used in all dishes throughout Asia. We got cookbooks which had lots of informative bits about Laos culture with all the recipes and great ideas for replacing ingredients you don't have at home. Tea and coffee were served between cooking, and our group was full of lovely people, so we enjoyed ourselves.

Now the bad: The poor chefs appear to simply hate their job. They were so absolutely miserable cooking and teaching that I worried, they might 1. walk out, or 2. break down and cry. It was my goal to make them smile, and I only succeeded to get one half smirk in the entire afternoon/evening. I can't say I really blame them though after learning that each of them work 6 days a week running two courses a day...cooking the same dishes over and over and over. The owner of this school must really turn some things around at the school, to include taking better care of her employees, hiring some relief for them, and restoring happiness in the kitchen - otherwise, I fear Tamnak Lao will continue to lose its good reputation to be overtaken by many courses waiting to take its place.

1  Thank Colorado-Miss
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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