Have you had a hankering for really tasty Thai food with authentic flavours in Vientiane? I know I have.
Living in Laos, with Thailand almost literally a stone's throw away (if you are particularly good at throwing), it still surprises me that there aren't more great Thai restaurants here in Vientiane.
So, I was very excited when the Crowne Plaza Hotel opened in early 2017 promising a fabulous, signature tri-country Asian restaurant. And almost 18 months later, after a few hiccups, 3 Merchants is finally here.
And it hits the spot, in more ways than one.
3 Merchants specialises in Indochine food - from Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, with a sprinkling of flavours from a few other southeast Asian cuisines.
I love the really big, authentic flavours. There are so many layers of spices in the curry pastes and sauces, and of course they use really quality local and imported produce.
Dining out at the 3 Merchants is more than good food - it's also about great ambience, decor and top notch service.
The decor is really beautiful, done to order by a Vietnamese decor company. Dark wooden furniture, black metal and polished floorboards are offset by flashes of colour - bright turquoise upholstery, purple vases and navy blue chairs.
The main entrance is via the lobby of the hotel but big windows facing outside flood the restaurant with natural light. Two floor to ceiling glass wine cellars lit with amber yellow lighting form partition walls with a difference.
And at the back (or the front, depending on your viewpoint) are cosy, cushioned booths with turquoise velveteen upholstered chairs and screen printed curtains.
There's a spot for every taste as long as yours borders on the chic and eclectic. And you like those diverse, bold flavours in your food too.
If it's all sounding too moreish and you want to make the most of your visit - because this is fine dining and it's not cheap - then my advice is to save up your kip and go for the tasting menu.
This is a 9 course feast with optional matching wines. Yes, of course we tried them and they're lovely too - 3 (or was it 4?) generous glasses of white and red wines, followed by a delicious dessert wine.
For let's not forget the desserts! After all, how good can a restaurant be without a great dessert menu?
From the pandan leaf panna cotta to the blue sticky rice with balls of sorbet mango, 3 Merchants is all about a creative twist on traditional favourites.
Feeling bold and inspired? Just do it. And don't forget to ask for a doggy bag.
Plus, want to see a non-shaky (ie professional) video of the 3 Merchants? Check out CP's below.
The 3 Merchants is on the ground floor of the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Vientiane. They're open for lunch and dinner Tues-Fri, and dinner only on the weekends.