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Where and what to eat in Cambodia: contrasts, herbs, fruits, flowers, sauces!
Let’s talk about the Khmer cuisine.
Good morning crew!
After Vietnam, today I fly you to Cambodia, to savor the Khmer cuisine.
There, I have visited the capital, Phnom Penh, and the evocative temples of Angkor, near Siem Reap. And we passed through the endless rice paddies and the colorful villages, from South to North, on one of the many minibusses that offer this service.
But let’s talk about food: contrasts, herbs, fruits, flowers, sauces … the Cambodian cuisine could find the right compromise and delight your palate with the most delicate flavors and textures, although it’s not as famous as the neighboring Thai and Vietnamese.
Here, too, you’ll often find a rice dish to accompany the meal, but don’t be fooled by appearances: it’s the fragrant Malis rice (or Jasmine). Can not go away without as souvenir!
What to eat in Cambodia: amok the national dish!
The cambodian national dish is the amok: this is a fish fillet covered with a mixture of spices (called kroeung) and coconut milk, cooked wrapped in banana leaves. The texture is silky, soft and tastes not too spicy. It served (of course!) with a bowl of rice.
In fact, the amok is not only fish: lamb, pork, beef, chicken, shrimp, vegetables… I have tasted a full selection in Siem Reap, at the Amok restaurant (at last!), near the center. I can not say what is my favorite version because really the mix of spices for each differed, and it gives to any their distinctive and never dull taste.
Actually, it’s said that the best amok in Cambodia is served at The Sugar Palm. It seems to have even received a visit of the chef Gordon Ramsay, and of course, I have been there too. The place is very nice, with a terrace opening on a small street a little bit far from the city center, so that we were afraid of getting lost…
Here the original amok, of catfish, is served, in a gourmet revision compared to the classic recipe, more like a soufflé, with a mix of unique flavors. It’s prepared at the time (it takes about 40 minutes of waiting). Meanwhile, I suggest you enjoy some Khmer chicken skewer as an appetizer … the peanut sauce is delicious!
What to eat in Cambodia: lok lak!
Another very famous dish in Cambodia is the lok lak: beef cubes sautéed and served with red onions, lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers, accompanied by a sauce of lime juice and Kampot pepper. I tasted it at Genevieve’s Restaurant, also in Siem Reap. The manager, Phil, has Australian origins: a widower, decided to continue the desire of his wife, helping the Cambodians young people to learn a work and open their own business. The service may not seem perfect, but you see that the guys do their own all! The dishes, however, are all great! Booking suggested.
Friends The Restaurant
A mission similar to that of The Friends Restaurant in Phnom Penh. Friends is one of the eight restaurants run by the TREE alliance, which allows young people from marginalized groups or at risk to find an employment in the growing high-level hospitality industry in Cambodia. These restaurants become real training centers and all revenues are reinvested for the working student education.
If the choice for dinner on our only evening in Phnom Penh fell here for ethical reasons, I admit that the dishes especially amazed me, so I asked to speak to the chef to make her my personal compliments. The menu is a mix of Khmer and international flavors, the guys, kind and highly trained, know how to give valuable advice on how to match dishes with each other for taste and spiciness. And the desserts are worthy of the best pastry shops. Do not leave without tasting the carrot cake!
Now you’re probably asking, did you eat insects?
No, I couldn’t. And I could even less when a scorpion blithely crossed my path. I tried to convince my travel companion to go to Bugs, in Siem Reap, a restaurant specializing in gourmet insects (because if one just has to do it, at least it’s gourmet!), and… I hoped really he says no!
Much better to have a beer (or two) in Pub Street!
Where to eat in Cambodia?
Among the addresses to eat I recommend:
Friends The Restaurant – website
The Sugar Palm – website
Genevieve’s restaurant – Facebook
Amok Restaurant – website
Bugs – website