I've been meaning to visit Senglao cafe for about a year. There's really no excuse for why I haven't except that - as you're probably aware if you read this blog - there's no shortage of dining spots in Vientiane. One's stomach (and waistline) can only take so much new cuisine.
Still, I got to Senglao finally. Better late than never.
I first visited a couple of weeks ago for dinner with friends. As I pulled into the lane (that can get a bit muddy but there's plenty of parking), I realised that I had forgotten my camera! That is the unfortunate reason that I don't have any photos of Senglao by night and how chic and charming it looks then.
But it did give me another reason to return.
What a gorgeous, quirky little place. You may by now have cottoned on to its signature theme, which can also be deduced from its movie light signage.
Senglao serves Asian fusion cuisine, and while the food is unarguably good, it's the 1960's Hollywood-cinema decor that really sets it apart. From the vintage leather movie chairs to the menu decked out on a cinema marquee, and the retro figurines, lights and movie memorabilia scattered around the restaurant, Senglao is certainly memorable.
The food, as I say, is good. It's a tad on the rich side and portions are generous; the best dishes are those shared. They've got all the nice touches from the complimentary tins of popcorn (they have a cinema popcorn machine inside - naturally) and fresh bread and butter, to the deconstructed coffees and "soda pop" style fresh juices.
It should come as no surprise to discover that Senglao is owned by the son of the former owner of Vientiane's first cinema, which sadly is no longer around.
Now let's see some food!
Senglao is a favourite with the "hi so" (well heeled) Lao crowd and is especially popular at lunch. Food arrives quickly and there's lots of vegetarian options. They take bookings but it's best to call rather than email/Facebook message. They have a kids' menu and also do breakfast on Sundays. The staff are friendly and attentive but don't speak English, though there always seems to be a manager around who does.
Senglao is off Sisangvong Road, just down from the Japanese embassy. Look out for the big movie sign marking the lane.