Monthly Archives: April 2012

Tom Yum Kung

Tom Yum Kung

Tom Yum Kung

Phnom Penh’s Golden Street or Street 278 is known for it’s many bars, restaurants and shops. So many in fact, that it can be hard to choose a venue to dine in. However, if you head just a bit west of Street 57, you can find a gem of a restaurant called Tom Yum Kung that dishes the goods.

I have driven by this restaurant too many times to count and never knew it was there until it was recommended by a fellow Nyammer. I think this is due to the parking area which is at the entrance of the restaurant and if there are a couple cars there (which there usually are), the sign is covered up. Either way, I am glad I found it because it serves some of the best Thai food I have had in Phnom Penh. I went with a pretty large group of people so we were able to order a ton of items off the menu.

Som Tam salad

Som Tam

Probably the best dish we ordered would be the first one we received.  The quintessentially thai salad Som Tam ($1.50). A great start to the meal, it had just enough heat to kickstart our palates for the upcoming feast. Add some sticky rice to this and it makes for a meal in itself (which I have done twice since). We also received some Satey Khai ($3.00) the same time we got the Som Tam and the skewers of chicken were so good that they only lasted a minute on the plate. So we ordered another.

Satey Khai

What you don't see are the awaiting hands out of frame

After dusting off the two starters, the dishes started pouring onto our table.

Pork Laarb ($3.00)

Pork Laab

Pork Laab

Tom Yum Kung (Sour and Spicy Soup $4.50)

Tom Yum Kung Soup

Tom Yum Kung Soup

Pla Tab Tim Nuang Ma Naw (Steamed Fish in Lime Juice $8.00)

Check out all that fish!!

Check out all that fish!!

Phat Kaprao Gai (Stir Fried Chicken with Thai Sweet Basil and Chili $3.00)

Stir Fried Chicken with Thai Basil

Stir Fried Chicken with Thai Basil

Phat Pak Roum (Stir Fried Vegetables $3.00)

Stir Fried Vegetables

Stir Fried Vegetables

We ordered everything spicy but I have to give the restaurant some credit for not destroying our taste buds by overpowering the tastes of the dishes with copious amounts of chili. That’s not to say that there wasn’t any heat, they just knew the right amount to put in. All of our group absolutely loved the Phat Kaprao Gai with it’s simple, fresh flavors and Pork Laarb didn’t last too long before being demolished and put out to pasture.

After stuffing ourselves silly, we lived up to our nyamming reputation and ordered some Khao Niaow Ma Muang (Mango and Sticky Rice $2.75) to finish out the meal.

Mango with Sticky Rice

Mango with Sticky Rice

A great end to a fantastic meal.

Tom Yum Kung
#10, St. 278, BKK1, Khan Chamkarmorn
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
+855 23 720 234

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Thai

Nyam Abroad: Banh Trang Nuong

Stitched image from the rooftop bar at the Ceatec Tower

Stitched image from the rooftop bar at the Ceatec Tower

My wife and I  spent a week in Ho Chi Minh City just recently, enjoying the culinary delights Vietnam has to offer. We had a great time meeting new people along with some old friends and of course, ate tons of great food.

Advertising the goods

Advertising the goods

One memorable item we ate (and we ate alot of it) was Banh Trang Nuong or what I ended up naming the Vietnamese Grilled Taco. Banh Trang is translated as rice paper and is the used as the wrapping material for Bánh Cuốn or Chả Giò. With these preparations, the banh trang is dipped in water to moisten them to make for easier rolling.

Banh Trang Nuong on the grill

Banh Trang Nuong on the grill

With this dish, the uncooked banh trang is placed on a grill and the ingredients are placed on top. We went to several vendors and the filling is generally a mix of minced pork, dried shrimp butter, chopped scallions, and a quail egg.

Ingredients for the Banh Trang Nuong

Ingredients for the Banh Trang Nuong

An optional squeeze of chili sauce rounds out the filling. We also saw chili-sate sauce, deep fried onions and deep fried rice paper as ingredients and thought they made the Banh Trang Nuong even better!

It's almost a taco!!

It's almost a taco!!

At a certain point on the grilling process which the vendor knows perfectly, the banh trang becomes a bit more pliable and is folded over. A bit more time is spent on the grill to crisp it back up and then it is served with some folded paper.

The finished product

The finished product

The crispiness of the banh trang combined with the gooey texture of the filling (probably because of almost done quail egg) is one of those great experiences I will take with me to the grave. One note is that you have to eat this fast as the banh trang wrapper goes a bit limp if you leave it to cool down.

You can find Banh Trang Nuong vendors around town but we found tons of them in the park next to the Notre-Dame Basilica in District 1.

Some more images from the week:

 

Instructions at Wrap and Roll in Ho Chi Minh City

Instructions at Wrap and Roll in Ho Chi Minh City

Sesame seed rice paper spring rolls at Wrap and Roll

Sesame seed rice paper spring rolls at Wrap and Roll

Banh cuon nhan thit at Wrap and Roll. Check out the pork floss

Banh cuon nhan thit at Wrap and Roll. Check out the pork floss

Banh Cuon with 4 types of Cha Lua

Banh Cuon with 4 types of Cha Lua

Complimentary appetizers on the 50th floor at Bitexico Tower

Complimentary appetizers on the 50th floor at Bitexico Tower

A 1956 Lambretta and it's proud owner

A 1956 Lambretta and it's proud owner

1 Comment

Filed under Vietnamese

Fast Food Burger Off

One of the best aspects of living in Cambodia is the extremely civilized 2 hour lunchtime. Combined with the relatively compact size of Phnom Penh, it is conceivable to go home, have lunch, relax or take a nap and get back to work in time. Not a bad way to live if you ask me.

But there are days where you just don’t have the time for civilized.

And that’s where this post is headed. We took that very civilized 2 hour lunch and hit up 4 different fast food burger joints in Phnom Penh to see if there actually is a decent fast food burger in town. Our criteria was simple.

It had to be fast so we set a time limit of 5 minutes from ordering to the time the order arrived for the restaurant to qualify. Now off to the judging!

Lucky Burger

Lucky Burger Meal

Lucky Burger Meal Deal

We first started off at Lucky Burger. With 5 locations in Phnom Penh, and 1 in Siem Reap, Lucky Burger was the closest we had to a western fast food restaurant.

We ordered the basic lucky burger meal which consisted of a cheeseburger, fries and a coke. I don’t know if I should consider this a plus but upon ordering our meal, we were asked it we wanted to up the size of our fries and drink for an extra charge. We declined but I think Lucky should be given some props for maintaining the western fast food mentality of upselling to the customer. After ordering, we got our order number and found a place to sit. 5 minutes later, we received our meal. My initial impression of the burger was positive.

All that cheese!

All that cheese!

Along with the normal LOT (lettuce, onion, tomato), there was an ample slice of american cheese, a tangy, not too sweet sauce and pickles. The sauce wasn’t cloyingly sweet and the pickles made for a great tang that was missed on the other burgers we tried. The fries were just okay and definitely needed some dipping in the accompanying catsup bowl for some extra flavor.

Lucky burger offered the best tasting burger but taste came with a price as it came dead last in order time.

2.5 out of 5 nyamies
Vinh

Lucky Burger

Lucky Burger

I had tried Lucky Burger before and it wasn’t too bad. The day we went, it kind of reminded me of the cheap burgers in the elementary school cafeteria. Probably grade F meat but definitely eatable. Nothing special but just a cheap fast food burger.

Lucky Burger cut in half

Lucky Burger cut in half

We stuck with just the basic cheeseburger but what I was surprised about was the variety on the Lucky Burger menu. They have the typical fast food menu but also pizza, fried chicken, rice, etc. We were trying to pace ourselves for the following spots but some of the other items looks pretty interesting.

2.5 out of 5 nyamies
Bryse

Lucky Burger
N0 158 Preah Sihanouk
Total order time: 5 minutes
Total Price: $3.50

Song Tra Ice Cream

Looking at the store front, you couldn’t tell that this place sells burgers. But once inside, we perused through the menu and found a lone cheeseburger in a menu filled with very sweet Khmer food items.

Song Tra burger

Song Tra burger

At 5,000 Riel, it was the cheapest of the bunch and only took 3 minutes to arrive but I think that’s all it had going for it. The burger consisted of a patty of indiscriminate meat, lettuce, a green tomato, catsup, special sauce, cucumber and coleslaw. The patty was a mealy affair and had no bite to it and the bun was the sweetest I have had in a while. I also have to dock off some points for having a barrier of sauce inbetween the (unmelted!) cheese and patty.

French Fries at Song Tra

French Fries at Song Tra

The french fries at Song Tra were the polar opposite of the burger. Piping hot, they were seasoned perfectly and definitely were the high point of the meal.

2 out of 5 nyamies
Vinh

Song Tra burger cut in half

Song Tra burger cut in half

A coworker had mentioned that Song Tra had really good, cheap fries which was definitely true. But how bad could the burger be? umm … pretty bad. We ordered the cheeseburger but whatever they had between the bun was definitely not beef.

Song Tra burger patty dissected

Song Tra burger patty dissected

1.5 out of 5 nyamies
Bryse

Song Tra Ice Cream
No. 17 Sothearos Blvd
Total order time: 3 minutes
Total cost: 12,000 riel for a cheeseburger, fries and a coke

BB World

BB World burger meal

BB World burger meal

BB World is another fast food chain in Cambodia that has 4 locations in Phnom Penh and is described on their parent company’s website as “The Cambodian equivalent to McDonalds but with an element of Kentucky Fried Chicken”. It also has the distinction of being the only one that is open 24 hours a day (only the Monivong branch). We ordered the BB World Cheeseburger Set which was the most expensive of the meals at $3.70.

BB World burger patty

BB World burger patty

The burger came with your typical LOT but also added a lone pickle to the mix. Unfortunately, the greyish hockey puck of a patty destroyed any redeeming qualities the rest of the ingredients could muster. Also, the cheese was unmelted, there was a mealy greenish tomato but on the plus side, the lettuce was crispy and the bun not so sweet. The fries were okay but I think we got a batch that had been left under the heat lamp a bit too long.

1.5 out of 5 nyamies
Vinh

BB World burger

BB World burger

Whenever we take on too many restaurants in a day, the last place definitely suffers from us being too full. However, I don’t think it would have mattered when we went to BB World. These guys take the cake for serving up one of the most unappetizing burgers I’ve seen.

BB World patty for the world to see

BB World patty for the world to see

Simply: no.

0.5 out of 5 nyamies (the only reason there is half a point is because I didn’t get sick)
Bryse

BB World (open 24 hours!!)
No 308 Preah Monivong
Total order time: 2 minutes
Total cost: $3.70 for a cheeseburger, fries and a coke

Ziki’s

I have seen these burger carts around Phnom Penh and have been meaning to actually have one of these burgers. Unfortunately, every time I have wanted one, the cart’s have been closed. Such was the case during the 2 hour lunch excursion. We went the one on Street 294 and 63 at 12:30 and got an empty cart.

We saw another one around 1:30 on Street 184 and 51 which was actually manned by an employee. She refused to serve us so all I got was a photo of her cleaning the cart for I assume would be an eventual opening.

Ziki Burger lady cleaning the cart

Ziki Burger lady cleaning the cart

I had contemplated going to Ziki Burger cart after the review but the main reason why fast food exists is convenience. Granted, only BB World is open 24 hours but in all honesty, if I can’t get a meal from the times of 12:00pm to 2:00pm, there is a problem.

Vinh

So there you have it. Once again, we have risked life and limb by raising our cholesterol levels to unhealthy heights for your reading pleasure! And the winner is…..

Lucky Burger at an average of 2.5 out of 5 nyamies!!!!

Here is the rest of the field:

Song Tra Ice Cream :1.75 out of 5 nyamies

BB World: 1 out of 5 nyamies

Ziki: DQ as they couldn’t even field a burger

5 Comments

Filed under Burgers

Mother In Law

No, this isn’t a post about my mother in law (who is a saint, by the way).

The Mother-In-Law restaurant

This is about the restaurant Chez La Belle Mere or if translated to English: Mother In Law restaurant. Located on on the corner of Street 55 and 240, it’s part of an evergrowing number of restaurants in the area. This restaurant has always intrigued me as it is always busy when I drive by and I thought Cambodians must really love their mother-in-laws but in reality, the draw is the food.

A combination of Chinese, Khmer and Vietnamese, most of the menu items range from 2 – 6 USD. For our visit, we ordered a combination of Khmer and Vietnamese food. We ordered Tuek Krueng (Fish with Prahok Sauce $3.90), Fish Sour Soup with Egg and Shrimp ($3.90), Bitter leaf and smoked fish salad ($3.90), Banh Cuon ($2.50) and Banh Hoi Bo Lui ($3.90).

Teuk Kreung

Teuk Kreung

I usually don’t care for Prahok much as I feel it overpowers anything it touches but this dish was different. Maybe it was due to the sliced basil and peanuts which helped give this dish a bit more depth. It also had to do with the Prahok was being used more as a flavoring agent than the central part of the dish.

Fish Sour Soup

Fish Sour Soup

What I really loved about this the Fish Sour Soup was the abundant amounts of steamed fish egg clumps.  They had a duck egg taste to them with a slight hint of fish. Yes, I know it sounds a bit wrong but you gotta try it for yourself. They tasted great!

Bitter leaf and smoked fish salad

Bitter leaf and smoked fish salad

Initially, I cared the least for this salad which was a bummer as it was the best looking one of the bunch.The bitter leaf, also known as sdao, asserted it’s flavor over anything else, leaving it a one-dimensional dish. Once I managed to take most of the sdao out of the salad, it stopped overpowering and made for a great counterpoint to the sweet, salty fish sauce based dressing.

Banh Cuon

Banh Cuon

The Vietnamese dishes were polarizing. The Banh Cuon was good but I have had better and at a third of the price at the one at Chez La Belle Mere.  The Banh Hoi Bo Lui was very good with the beef cooked to a rare temperature and had tons of lettuce, banh hoi noodles to make for an extremely filling dish.

Banh Hoi Bo Lui

Banh Hoi Bo Lui

The Mother In Law restaurant is a great place to check out for the diverse menu and  relatively cheap prices. 

Chez la Belle Mere
#38 Street 240
Phnom Penh
Tel: 012 974 258

1 Comment

Filed under Cambodian, Khmer, Vietnamese