Here's Why Laos Is Gordon Ramsay's Favorite Food Destination

Gordon Ramsay's last meal on earth would include an In-N-Out burger and sticky toffee pudding, but when it comes to his favorite food destination, Ramsay revealed to Korean YouTuber Cho Seung-yeon that Laos has his heart. He described the food as being "just off the charts," drawing from his personal experience after exploring of the country in 2019. The Michelin star restaurateur visited Laos for his National Geographic "Uncharted" series where he traveled up and down the Mekong River. His goal was to learn all about the food so he could make a meal for the monks in the region.

During the episode, Ramsay's guide, Joy, explained that Lao food is not too sweet and that they use lots of ingredients they get from the forest. Per X, formerly known as Twitter, the celebrity chef was pleasantly surprised when he sampled the local cuisine which included frogs, snails, and "toe biters." Toe biters, or giant water bugs, are considered a delicacy. Threaded onto traditional bamboo skewers and roasted over an open fire, upon tasting, Ramsay likened their meat to a cross between a sweet lobster and crab. Additionally, he found the snails, which they wrapped in lettuce leaves with spring onions, to be delicious and meaty. But these aren't the only dishes he found of note.

Whiskey and ant egg soup

During this "Uncharted" episode that placed a spotlight on Laos, Gordon Ramsay also sampled lao-lao, which is a local moonshine made from steamy, sticky rice — a staple of the Southeastern Asian country. Ramsay explained it is "super strong" and can top out at "120 proof." But what came as a true shock was how this home brewed Laotian rice whiskey was marinated with geckos. The chef noted this extra ingredient added an unexpected sweetness to the alcohol. While Ramsay ruled it to be too strong to serve as a drink, he did express a belief that it could be a welcomed addition for a "heavenly banana flambé." 

The celebrity chef even tried his hand at making ant soup, learning firsthand how to harvest the ants and their eggs from their nests. He found their citrus taste added to a tug of war of the dish's zesty, sweet and sour notes. When asked by The Independent about the biggest lesson he learned during his filming of "Uncharted," Ramsay said, "Resourcefulness and making sure that we only take what we need."

Make Ramsay's Laos-inspired drink

Gordon Ramsay's trek through Laos also gave him a profound respect for the resources themselves. This is particularly evident in the footage showcasing when his guide, Joy, shows him how to barbecue the fish they've caught, right next to the river it came from. The dish they enjoy is called Mok Pa, and it is steamed in a banana leaf with some lemongrass to create an aromatic and tasty bite. At the end of the episode, Ramsay expressed his admiration for the country's fare, saying, "The Mekong River continues to give them something very valuable — a rich culture that thrills the taste buds and feeds the soul. That is priceless."

If you need a reason to visit Laos, the food is certainly a good one to hang your hat on, or you can do something a little more economical and try making Ramsay's recipe for a Laos-inspired pina colada right in your own kitchen. What makes this drink unique is all of the fresh ingredients used along with sticky rice whiskey — lao-lao. This drink uses pineapple, coconut, coconut cream, fresh mint leaves, and palm sugar boiled with water, which, in a Facebook post, Ramsay notes "tastes like caramel." Blend it all together, and you too may feel a metaphorical breeze from the Mekong River.