I didn’t mean to visit Sister Nui’s House of Fruit Shakes three times in a row. I was in a new country and wanted to try out a bunch of restaurants, since I had a limited four days in Vientiane, Laos. But on my first visit, after Nui made me the first of what was to be many gorgeous fruit salads, I knew I’d be back. I arrived in Laos after spending 15 hours on an overnight bus from Chiang Mai, Thailand. I checked into my hostel, and spent at least 40 minutes obsessively searching reviews on TripAdvisor before braving the world and sauntering .3 miles to replenish my weary traveler soul and get my fruit shake on.
When I got there, Nui was behind the counter assembling a shake for a customer who had just walked in. I ordered a large fruit salad with yogurt and muesli and took my seat. Within minutes, she had delivered to my table the most beautiful display of tropical fruit I had ever seen. The fruit salad was mango, papaya, watermelon, mangosteen, rambutan, asian pear, apple, banana and dragonfruit. Everything was perfect, and I was so tired and depleted from traveling that finding this place was a godsend.
After breakfast, I went sightseeing in Vientiane and wandered the city by myself for a while. It was hotter than I thought it was going to be and by the time I got back to the neighborhood where my hostel was, all I could think about was fruit shakes. So I went back to see Nui.
Nui and I are old friends by now. (Just kidding, but she does recognize me from this morning.) I know I definitely want a fruit shake and a sandwich, so I let her pick both of them for me. Minutes later she came to my table with a shake (orange, melon and banana) and an avocado and veggie baguette. Both were seriously amazing. The shake was so refreshing, and the sandwich so perfect, a crusty baguette loaded with avocado and an assortment of sauteed and fresh vegetables dressed with sesame oil and vinegar. At this point, I knew I need to have a serious conversation with Nui because the quality of her ingredients and attention to detail is just incredible.
In my talk with her, I learned that she opened this shop by herself in 2002. After giving birth to her son, she was plagued with chronic digestive issues and healed herself by eating whole, unprocessed foods. Unlike most shops offering fruit shakes, Nui doesn’t add any sugar, milk or yogurt to her shakes. She uses only fresh fruit and ice. This fact alone has gained her a cult following among backpackers and locals alike. She also doesn’t believe in freezing her fruit; she instead sources local fresh fruit every day for her shop. Since she healed herself with food, she wants to provide the same nutritional value to all of her customers as well. For her sandwiches, she offers vegan baguettes and vegan or non-vegan sandwich options.
On the third time I came back, I was hungry. Like, really hungry. This time I ordered a shake (avocado and coconut), the same sandwich I had yesterday (because it was so good) and a fruit salad.
Y’all, this shake was good. It only had three ingredients: Avocado, coconut meat and ice. It was so rich and thick and full of healthy fats, and super subtly sweet, with just the natural sweetness of avocado and coconut and no added sugar. The sandwich was amazing again, with perfectly ripe avocado, eggplant and onion sauteed in sesame oil and fresh cucumber, tomato and lettuce dressed with black pepper, sesame oil and vinegar. And, of course, it was the best damn fruit salad that I’ve come to know and love. Everything was perfectly ripe and fresh, and she plated it all so beautifully. All three items (the shake, the sandwich and the fruit salad) in total: 40,000 kip or $4.95. I could weep.
Traveling is fun and challenging, and one of the most difficult things about traveling is eating out all the time without necessarily having the language to communicate with the people in charge of preparing your meals. As a health-conscious traveler, it isn’t always easy or possible to confirm that your food is going to be made vegan, or without sugar, or without dairy. You’re always kind of rolling the dice.
That’s one of the reasons why Nui’s place is so significant. She is 100% transparent with the ingredients she uses, and she prepares it right in front of you at the counter. It is a breath of fresh air, to say the least.
Nui’s shop is located right in downtown Vientiane, Laos. Here’s the link to her TripAdvisor. If you’re ever in Vientiane, do yourself a favor and relax for a while with a fruit shake (or three).
Like us on Facebook!