Luang Prabang is a stunning colonial town sandwiched between two rivers and surrounded by beautiful green mountains in northern Laos. Just ten years ago it was a quiet little place in a far away country, today it is one of the biggest destinations in all of Southeast Asia.
With so many tourists coming to Luang Prabang these days, it was only a matter of time before pizza arrived on the scene. Today there are 3 pizzerias, but the only one that boasts its own wood-burning oven is Pizza SaSa. It is located on the quiet side of town and has become a regular spot for tourists and French ex-pats. It was opened four years ago by a French couple, Anne Maurice and Sebastien Bovedo. Sebastien, the pizzaiolo, operated his own pizza truck for 10 years in France starting in the late nineties, long before food trucks became all the rage in America. Upon arriving in town in 2009, Sebastian got to work on his brick and clay oven and has been throwing dough in Luang Prabang for nearly two years now.
The best part of eating pizza in exotic places is seeing how they incorporate local ingredients. In Luang Prabang the delicacy of choice is the sweet and spicy pork sausage that is made with chili peppers, lemongrass, and lime juice. At Pizza SaSa I ordered the house pie cleverly called the Luang Prabang Pizza—that features their homemade tomato sauce, the local sausage, potatoes cooked in cream, onions, mozzarella, and oregano. In order to assemble this pizza, some serious food miles were logged; the flour came from Thailand, the tomatoes from China, the mozzarella from New Zealand, the cream from Australia, and the oregano from Italy.
About as thick as your standard NYC pie, the base was soft and chewy with a nice speckled char on the bottom. The sauce was clearly made in-house; it had a hearty tomato flavor without being tangy or overly sweet and wasn't over applied. The main attraction, however, was the pairing of the sliced Luang Prabang sausage with Sebastien's cream-cooked potatoes. It's rare that I am a proponent of potatoes on pizza—too much starch—but these little cubes were cooked to perfection. They were tender and creamy yet not overly soft and they absorbed just the right amount of the chili kick delivered by the sausage. The potatoes were layered on top of the mozzarella which also possessed a nice flavor, but was applied a little too generously and somewhat masked the superb taste of the other ingredients.
Pizza Sasa sells all its pizza by the pie in two sizes, 9 and 12 inch ($9 and $12 respectively). The price is a little steep compared with the heaping plates of meat, fish and veggies you get in the night market for just $1, but you are a long way from finding any pizza even close to this tasty.
Ban Wat That
Luang Prabang, LAO P.D.R. (map)
About the author: Kenny Dunn was raised on cheesesteaks and the tomato pie, after spending a few years wandering the globe he landed in Italy where he runs Tours in Rome of the city's tastiest foods.