Jan 11, 2016

Cambodia Travelogue: First Day in the Land of Khmer Food (29 Jan 2015)

As it is the brand new of 2016, it is only fitting to kick start my Cambodia travelogue before it becomes a trip happened "2 years ago".

Why Cambodia?
It was partially due to the frequency of Angkor Wat popping up in my daily conversation at work, and my personal urge to visit Angkor Wat before this UNESCO world heritage site disappeared from this world.
So we landed in Siem Reap on 29 Jan 2015, excited to explore what Cambodia had in store for us.

Our first venture in Siem Reap was none other than a taste of Khmer Food at Khmer Kitchen Restaurant in Phsar Chas (Old Market).

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Khmer Dumpling with Sauce @ Khmer Kitchen Restaurant (USD 2.50) 
To start off our first Khmer meal, we ordered Khmer dumplings as appetiser. Akin to Chinese dumplings, the difference being the ingredients used (usage of rice flour was prevalent) and thickness of skin. Both were loaded with vegetables, i.e. chives/spring onions and onions. Personally, I liked the one with onions for its balance in texture and flavour. Another was outright bland and you know, grassy.

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Amok @ Khmer Kitchen Restaurant (USD 4)
Before long, one of our main courses, Amok, was served. Being the major national culinary tradition in Cambodia, we just had to try. Cooked with coconut cream, spicy paste, long beans, onion, green leaves, egg white and pork, this Amok was fragrant and delicious. However, do bear in mind that it was consistently coconuty rich and flavourful that at one point, you will say, "I have had enough". I personally thought it was due to the lack of spiciness to provide the necessary contrast.

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Khmer Curry @ Khmer Kitchen Restaurant (USD 4)
Another main course, Khmer curry, was served alongside with Amok. Cooked with coconut cream, spicy paste, chilies, potatoes, yam, pumpkin, carrot and pork, this Khmer curry was a delightful addition. Loaded with different types of vegetables, the natural sweetness was a welcoming contrast to Amok. Though its richness was nothing close to Amok, I would have chosen this Khmer curry over Amok, and yes, I could surely help myself to the whole curry.

Total Damage for 2 Pax = USD 11.50 (+ Angkor draft beer for USD 1)

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Fruit Juice On-the-Go @ Phsar Chas (USD1)
Following the conclusion of our first Khmer meal, we walked around Phsar Chas (Old Market) and stumbled across many of these USD1 mobile fruit juice stalls. Out of curiosity, we went to check on this particular stall.

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Avocado Shake @ Phsar Chas (USD 1)
To our amazement, they had avocados! Knowing how luxurious avocado is priced, ordering an avocado shake was almost a no brainer. Even at USD 1, this stall did not skimp on the avocado. I was utterly satisfied.

Total Damage = USD 1 (for sharing)

Due to the hot weather in Siem Reap, we did not linger long. Instead, we took a comfortable nap in double room in Golden Papaya Guesthouse, which is located c. 800m from Khmer Kitchen Restaurant.

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7-Meat Degustation BBQ Set @ Cambodian BBQ Restaurant (USD 19.50/2 pax)
After 5 hours nap, it was time for our second meal at Cambodian BBQ Restaurant. Our primary reason of selecting Cambodian BBQ Restaurant was none other than this 7-meat degustation BBQ set, made up of crocodile meat, shark meat, espadon meat, beef, pork, chicken and squid.

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Complimentary (and Refillable) Noodles, Rice and Vegetables @ Cambodian BBQ Restaurant
To go with our meats, we were provided with complimentary noodles, rice and vegetables, which were refillable upon request.

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Sizzling Action @ Cambodian BBQ Restaurant
If I had a choice, I would gladly replace shark in the degustation set, for it was closely resembled to fish, though more resistant and saltier. Shark aside, our BBQ dinner was decent but not mind blowing. I particularly liked the design of their grill for it allowed the soup to be flavoured by juices flowing out from the meats. 

Total Damage for 2 Pax = USD 22

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Mobile Pancake Stall @ Phsar Chas (Old Market)
After our meal at Cambodian BBQ Restaurant, we saw this pancake stall and we were totally sold. Who could resist the combo of banana and chocolate?

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Banana Nutella Pancake @ Phsar Chas (USD 1)
For USD 1, we had gotten ourselves a piece of roti canai/prata with gooey spread of nutella and slices of semi-cooked banana. Despite the tongue scorching heat, we devoured this lovely dessert before we were even out of Phsar Chas. Was it worth the calories? You bet so!

Total Damage = USD 1 (for sharing)

IN SUMMARY, my personal dining ranking (5 being the full score) based on following criteria are:
  • Ambiance
    • Khmer Kitchen Restaurant - 3/5
    • Random Mobile Juice Stall - 2/5
    • Cambodian BBQ Restaurant - 3/5
    • Random Mobile Pancake Stall - 2/5
  • Price
    • Khmer Kitchen Restaurant - 3/5
    • Random Mobile Juice Stall - 5/5
    • Cambodian BBQ Restaurant - 3/5
    • Random Mobile Pancake Stall - 5/5
  • Food
    • Khmer Kitchen Restaurant - 3/5
    • Random Mobile Juice Stall - 5/5
    • Cambodian BBQ Restaurant - 3/5
    • Random Mobile Pancake Stall - 5/5
  • Verdict
    • Khmer Kitchen Restaurant - A good introduction to Khmer food, though not the best in flavour.
    • Random Mobile Juice Stall - Give me another one, please?
    • Cambodian BBQ Restaurant - Interesting but not so interesting
    • Random Mobile Pancake Stall - Heavenly good, must try!

DINING INFO:

Khmer Kitchen Restaurant
Street 11, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
Operation Hours: 11am - 11pm
Tel: +855 63 964 154
Credit Cards: No

Cambodian BBQ Restaurant
Pub Street (The Passage), Siem Reap, Cambodia
Operation Hours: 10am - 12am
Tel: +855 63 966 052, +855 78 845 938
Credit Cards: Yes

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