Located just across the street from Nagaworld, the Khmer Food Village is an interesting restaurant which tries to push the boundaries in Phnom Penh but sadly falls short.
It’s obvious that whoever designed the front entrance loves horses. Flanking the cart adorned with horse hair are two very well endowed horse statues.
Upon entering, you will be directed to the right of two counters where you buy the card that you will need to purchase any food or drink. You can’t run the card down to the last riel as they place a 5,000 riel deposit on it in case you lose it or want to take it home for sentimental value.
Once you get the card, it’s now time to order from one of the many different food stations which are located in a building in the center of the restaurant. Unfortunately, the food that they display looked pretty horrible as it looked like it was cooked a long time ago. The menu is strictly Khmer and is probably the most extensive I have seen in a restaurant in Cambodia. We were a group of about 10 and ordered a variety of dishes, most of which were priced around 10,000 Riel (no Dollar signs here!).
The meals all come with as much rice as you can eat. I would not call the dishes spectacular with the exception of the fried pork and garlic along with the pork with kreung spices but I wouldn’t call them horrible. Just in the middle, I guess. The one thing I did enjoy was the sheer variety of dishes offered. Nowhere in Phnom Penh can offer this and because of that, it is definitely worth a visit.
I have also included commentary from another person in the group that is bit less effusive than my comments.
Khmer Food Village cleverly set expectations low from the beginning by (1) Having an impossibly confusing system of ordering food via top-up cards, supplemented by approximately 50 staff members per diner, all hovering around trying to “help,” and (2) Displaying what looked like days-old finished dishes in glass cases surrounding the dining area.
The meats and vegetables all looked so tired and wilty that by the time we got our food, I was just happy to have something mildly edible set before me. The quality of the dishes we tried ranged from dubious to excellent, with my favorite being the Khmer dessert akao: essentially a steamed cake with coconut cream. In an actual Khmer village it would have come wrapped in a palm leaf, but here it was referred to as a “Cambodian cupcake” and just came on a plate. Either way, it was so good we got extras.
Also delicious, though fatty, were the pork ribs with little bits of toasted garlic and the beef satay, which was what I got when I ordered beef “roulade.”
Samlor ktis, or sour soup with coconut milk, was just average. Fried rice was serviceable, although it looked like it had been mixed with ketchup, which always completely freaks me out for some deep-seated psychological reason.
And one fish dish got such bad reviews from the other members of our party that I didn’t even want to try it. I’ll probably stick to more traditional Khmer restaurants and beer gardens in the future, but this might be a good choice if you’re looking for an accessible introduction to Khmer food. ALSO I would not be doing my job if I did not mention to potential diners that there are some truly striking statues of horses flanking the entrance of the restaurant. Hopefully Vinh has a photo because words will not suffice here.
Here are some more photos from the visit: