Friday, 14 July 2017

Epic Meal at Phnom Penh Restaurant

A unique (and delicious) place serving Vietnamese and Cambodian cuisines
Yesterday I met up with an acquaintance in Chinatown and he suggested we eat at Phnom Penh, a Cambodian-Vietnamese restaurant.

He was shocked to find that I had never been there and insisted we eat lunch there.

I arrived at the appointed time to find a crowd of people standing in the foyer waiting for a table, while others preferred to soak up the sunshine before their name was called to come in.

Watching people come in and out, there were not only Cantonese-speakers, but also Mandarin, as well as non-Chinese who seemed to be very familiar with the place. Guess it was a good sign.

Deep-fried chicken wings have alight batter and tart sauce
By 1pm the restaurant was still bustling, and after about a 10-minute wait we finally got a table. And since my acquaintance is such a regular here, he practically knew all the dishes we should order, adding that four of the items on the menu are ones one should eat before they die. Die? Really?

He asked me if I had such a list... I had to answer in the negative.

I'd never thought of it that way before, but that just made me more skeptical of how good Phom Penh really was.

Nevertheless, the food soon arrived fast and furious on the laminate table. A half portion of deep-fried chicken wings were garnished with spring onions, garlic, and coriander, with a peppery lemon sauce on the side. Fantastic, and perfect beer food. The batter wasn't heavy and was quite crunchy.

Cubes of beef covered in a dark sauce, topped with fried egg
Next came fillet beef luc lac on rice with egg (CAD$10.95). Honestly it doesn't look pretty -- the cubed beef was smothered in a very dark brown shiny sauce with a fried egg on top. The egg was a bit more cooked than runny, which would have made it takes a bit better.

My friend mixed these all up as well as he could, minus the salad on the side. This wasn't a dish I would consider a must-have before dying -- the flavour was actually flat -- even the egg couldn't save it.

However, we really liked the beef fillet anchois (CAD$19), which was basically beef carpaccio topped with a soy sauce mixed with lots of coriander, garlic and lemongrass. The sauce complemented the beef, and interestingly for a restaurant in Chinatown we did not get sick after eating a raw meat dish!

Finally the flavour of the Phnom Penh hot and sour soup with prawns (CAD$12.95) was fantastic. I like sour tastes, and this one pretty much hit the jackpot. It was a curious combination again lemongrass, and probably lime for tartness, added with tomatoes, pineapples, beansprouts, potatoes and overcooked prawns.

 SE Asian beef carpaccio with lots of coriander and garlic!
The food we ordered was enough for three people, but we somehow managed to almost finish it all. Needless to say I was so full afterwards that I could have almost skipped dinner.

When we came out of the restaurant, there was yellow police tape cordoning off the sidewalk a few doors down with police cars on the street and people in uniform checking out the area. One wiped blood off the sidewalk which meant that it was probably a stabbing.

And we didn't even know! We were too busy eating to hear any commotion if there was any...

Phnom Penh restaurant is pretty good, but as long as you're willing to wait...

Phnom Penh
244 East Georgia
604 682 5777

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