To travel in another country is truly a great privilege. But if you have not experienced any new dishes native to that country, then you are missing out a lot of the nation’s culture.
This is perhaps true if you are to travel to Cambodia—the home to the ever-popular Angkor Wat, the seat of the capital city Phnom Penh, and equally important, are its conservative, mostly Buddhist inhabitants.
You may have heard stories about the history of Cambodia and even learn about its culture by reading books, but if you have not tasted any of its delicious foods, then you would not understand what the nation is about in its fullness.
- Lucky Pho
Who better represents Cambodia’s cooking than the Khmers themselves? Lucky Pho, a small Khmer family-owned restaurant business in Phnom Penh, is a commonplace among expats for its yummy curries and spring rolls, among other dishes.
But for a tiny diner that is named after a traditional Cambodian food itself—pho—its other selling point is a hot bowl of soup which contains healthful ingredients such as limes, fresh chilies, bean sprouts, mint, in addition to protein sources like fish, meatballs, chicken meat, or seafoods that all help fill the tummy for a satiating dining experience.
2. Khmer Surin Restaurant
While many Khmers who operate a hospitality business in Phnom Penh puts a touch of the Cambodian culture into what they do—sometimes naturally enough—no other establishments in the capital city compares to Khmer Surin Restaurant in representing the Khmer culture. From the way the building is built, to the way its surrounding area is designed, this restaurant exudes Cambodian intricacy in architecture.
Not just from the externals, the indoor design also displays an array of Khmer lifestyle as seen from the arrangement of furniture, dining tables, Cambodian-style seating, etc. Yet, equally important, are the traditional Khmer dishes which give essence to the place.
Having been in operation for more than a decade now since opening in 2005, Malis was a pioneer in the city’s dining business by being the first to upgrade the country’s common dishes by successfully blending both traditional and contemporary cuisines.
As a result of the combined power of the old and new ways, dishes such as Battambang beef steak, prahok ktis, and kroeung seasoning became the highlight foods of the restaurant.
Romdeng may not necessarily best represent the Cambodian culture through its choice of architectural design and overall feel of the venue with it being set in a colonial villa. It, however, tries to stay true to its native roots by offering dishes that are truly its own.
Whether it is the famous baked-fish, amok, the tiger-prawn curry, or the two-toned pomelo salad, to more exotic dishes as stir-fried tree ants or deep-fried tarantulas mixed with beef and holy basil, there is something truly unique when dining in this place.
Did the names of restaurants that made this list got your tongue salivated? I know I did.
But while it is tempting to go to Cambodia to check out their fancy dishes, make sure you are properly equipped when visiting the place. One importantly is your entry ticket into the country—your Cambodia eVisa.