Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Forbidden Meat

“There is a charm about the forbidden that makes it unspeakably desirable”

Mark Twain

A DISCLAIMER FROM THE WRITER: We have obscured the identities of all parties in photos and names have been changed to preserve anonymity and confidentiality.

The horror....

We set out a couple of weeks ago to a group of restaurants located near Wat Ounaloum after reports from local media along with friends about a ban on a certain dish that had offended the sensibilities of the local clergy in the area.

Eating kor dut= youths drinking beer????

The dish in question is kor dut and consists of a young calf that spit roasted over coals, and sliced to order. Doesn’t sound offensive enough to ban right?

I guess the offending bit was that the calf was in plain view in front of the restaurant, enticing people (and possibly wayward monks) to come have a taste. The restaurants still serve kor dut but have been told by the municipality to move them inside the restaurant.

Relegated to the backroom

Relegated to the backroom

All the restaurants on the block all looked the same so we had a bit of trouble making a decision on which one to eat at. Luckily, the enterprising proprietor of one grabbed one of our group by the arm and said, “You eat here! ”

Simple enough

We initially ordered a tower of Anchor and a couple plates of the beef. I ended up following the waiter and watched the preparation of the plate. After slicing, the tender beef gets placed on some seriously hot coals for a couple of minutes to crisp up the skin and served with some lime pepper sauce.

Mmmm.... Beef.....

Mmmm.... Beef.....

It is probably the most tender beef I have had in Cambodia and mixed with the lime pepper sauce, makes for a very tasty plate. There is an ample amount for the price (10,000 Riel) and is definitely something I would order again.

Dropping off a plate of pork disguised in some fried rice

We ordered a bunch of food that is in the general Nyam M.O. and though it was normal beer garden fare, there was ample amounts of it.

Flaunting all sorts of sin

It was a great experience as we had a great time chatting with the proprieter and of course, having some great barbecued meat. If you have a chance, definitely try out kor dut even if you have to get it from the back room.

Binh

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Dolce Italia

Condiments at Dolce Italia

Condiments at Dolce Italia

There’s something about a wood fired pizza that gets me well, a bit fired up.  I think that it’s the crispy, yet chewy crust that only a stupidly hot wood oven can create. I also love the visual aspect of a pie with blistered, almost burned edges and taking that first bite, burning the roof of your mouth and not caring.

That’s why my wife and I ended up at  Dolce Italia: Pizza Napoletana Da Giorgio after a hearing from a friend about the pizzas. The menu is a mixture of antipastas, sandwiches, pastas and of course, wood fired pizzas. We ended up ordering a classic Pizza Fresca ($9.50) and the Ripieno Classico ($11.50).

Another great aspect of wood fired pizzas is that they take no time to cook so from the time we ordered to the time we got our pizza and calzone was under 10 minutes.

Pizza Fresca at Dolce Italia

Pizza Fresca at Dolce Italia

The Pizza Fresca is sheer simplicity; consisting of tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh tomatoes and  basil. It’s this simplicity that allows the high quality ingredients to shine.  The crust was superb with just enough charring to give it that taste only a wood fire can give.

Just enough char

Just enough char

We also ordered the Ripieno Classico or Calzone Napoletano which consisted of ricotta, shredded mozzarella, salame Napoli and basil.

Ripieno Classico at Dolce Italia

Ripieno Classico at Dolce Italia

The crust for the calzone wasn’t as crisp as the pizza but still managed to have that great wood-fired taste and there was ample amounts of goodness inside that made it gut-bustingly delicious.

There are about 10 pizzas on the menu which range from $6 – $15 which is very reasonable considering the size of the pies. Also, they do not deliver and only do pick up orders.

Vinh

Dolce Italia
#96 Sothearos Blvd
Tel: 012 562 892
Just across the street from the Vietnamese/Cambodian Friendship Monument

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Ngon 13 months later

Banh Xeo at Ngon

Banh Xeo at Ngon

It’s been over 13 months since the Ngon fiasco that left me (and others) with a such bad taste in my mouth that I have never gone back. I still think of it as my worst dining experience in Cambodia.

However, it is one of the most read posts on our blog and we still get comments regarding the service. Many people have commented to me that I should give Ngon another chance (one actually told me to lower my expectations as “this is Cambodia”).

So with much trepidation, I went to Ngon.

In Vietnam.

And what I got was a mixed bag.

We went off to the new location which is located An Phu in District 2 which has become a haven for expatriates and well to do Vietnamese. You can definitely see the development in the clean streets and the very suburban feel to several of the compounds located in the area.

Not a bad place to have a meal

Not a bad place to have a meal

The new Ngon is one of four restaurants in the Thao Dien Village which is located on a very picturesque riverbank located on the northern eastern part of the peninsula. We went for lunch and were lucky to grab a great spot right next to the river. The menu is a bit more expensive than the one in District 1 but with the mainly seafood options and the picturesque location, I had to give them a bit of leeway in terms of pricing.

We decided to order in a non-Nyam fashion and only order 3 dishes. We got a papaya salad with beef, Banh Xeo with seafood (no shrimps please) and deep fried squid. The first dish to arrive was the papaya salad.

Fresh papaya salad with beef

Fresh papaya salad with beef

Served in a hollowed out papaya, the flavors of the salad were fresh and light and a perfect start to the meal. There was an ample amount of sliced rare beef to give the dish a bit of heft and it was topped with peanuts and deep fried shallots gave the salad a nice crunchy texture. Up next was the fried calamari.

Muc Chien Don at Ngon

Muc Chien Gion at Ngon

They looked great when they were dropped off but then the cheap side of my brain kicked in and went “Holy crap, this dish was 180,000 dong??? Dude, that’s like a dollar a ring!

Usually I dress any deep fried calamari with a dose of lime/lemon and dip them in the accompanied sauce. But I decided that these had better be the best deep fried calamari on Earth for that asking price and popped one in my mouth ungarnished and unsauced.

50 cents in my belly and 50 cents on my chopsticks

50 cents in my belly and 50 cents on my chopsticks

It was good but it wasn’t mind-blowingly great. I asked for some lime and tried it again garnished and sauced. Heaps better but still not worth the price. In the end, I waited for special moments like when a boat was passing by to have another ring so I could appreciate the price of the dish a bit more.

The last dish to arrive was the banh xeo which was pretty tasty and very filling.

Banh Xeo at Ngon

Banh Xeo at Ngon

One ingredient that I have not ever seen in Banh Xeo was the addition of mushrooms which gave the dish an earthy taste which cut the taste of the large amounts of onions in the dish.

Some shipping goes by

Some shipping goes by

The meal came to just under $40 USD and even though the location is great and I left full, I couldn’t stop thinking about that damn calamari.

Vinh

Ngon
Thao Dien Village
195 Nguyen Van Huong St.,
Thao Dien Ward, Disctrict 2, HCMC

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La Patate

La Patate

Mmmm.... Beer....

La Patate is one of the longest running restaurants on Street 5, a small side street that runs parallel to the riverside. It’s known by expats as the best place in town to get Belgian fries so we decided to stop on by to see if the reputation holds.

The interior is covered in Tin Tin posters which gives it a nice retro feel to the place. They serve all sorts of belgian beers there so if you were looking to try something a bit different than your typical Cambodian lagers, this is the place to go.

In typical Nyamming form, we ended up ordering way too much food which consisted of a couple bazooka’s, a jumbo order of Belgian fries, a slew of dipping sauces and an order of mussels.

bazooka burger

Encased in a crusty baguette, the Bazooka is definitely a meal that can be shared and in typical Nyam fashion, we ordered two. We ordered the burger and sausage bazookas which were very reasonably priced at $5.50. The sausage was a much better choice with the burger patties being a bit too mushy for my tastes. The sausage casing gave it just enough bite for texture and had just enough heat to perk up my taste buds.

The mussels were the highlight of the lunch. Mixed in with the herby lemon butter broth and large mussels were an ample amount of calamari and shrimp. It was so good that I threw caution to the wind and dipping the accompanied bread in the sauce until it was all gone (I am allergic to shrimp).

Mussels

I have had the fries before and they are definitely worth a visit. Fried twice in true Belgian fashion, the fries have an amazingly crisp exterior while retaining a light and fluffy potato texture on the inside. If having some of the best fries in Phnom Penh wasn’t enough, they have now added several dipping sauces to accompany the fries! You get Ketchup for free but an extra $0.50 gets you Mayonnaise, Aioli, Barbecue, Sriracha (hells ya!) or Samourai Hot. Definitely spend the extra loi and try some of the sauces.

All in all, the mussels are to die for here and you can never go wrong with an order of jumbo fries made better with some fun dipping sauces (get the Samourai Hot).

4 out of 5 Nyammies.
Vinh

papa fritz

While walking into La Patate we were greeted by a jolly Belgium who turned out to be the owner of the place. In addition to the Tin Tin posters everywhere, there are several photos of him with Matt Dillon and Gerard Depardieu from the City of Ghosts filming in Phnom Penh back in the day. So before even trying anything, you get the impression that if La Patate was good enough for Depardieu it’s probably pretty legit.

We ordered the signature fries with all of the dipping sauces, a couple of the bazooka’s and for some reason, everyone else wanted to try the mussels. The fries were pretty good but I’m not a big fan of places that don’t salt their fries. I assume this is so that customers can salt to their taste but in my opinion, if a restaurant named after a potato, they should have these things arriving at your table ready to go.

sausage bazooka

The dipping sauces were all pretty great. The bazooka sandwiches was served on sliced baguettes which was really nice for the spicy sausage but just didn’t really work for the burger. The bazooka burger was more of just a kind of weird beef sandwich than a burger. I’m not a big fan of mussels so I tried to avoid eating them but was forced to try the sauce towards the end of the meal and was surprised at how good it was. Mussels not being my thing, I probably wouldn’t order it again but I would recommend it to seafood lovers and would probably steal a few bites.

Overall, the atmosphere was cool, the spicy sausage bazooka was delicious and the fries pretty solid. The owner laughed as us when we were finishing and said if we ate 3 bazooka’s, the 4th one would be free. No way that was happening that day but I might take him up on the offer next time.

3.5 out of 5 nyamies
Bryse

La Patate – No. 14 street 5 between streets 110 and 118

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