Tag Archives: beef

The Exchange Burger

The Exchange

The Exchange

The Exchange is one of a number of high-end restaurants that have opened up in Phnom Penh in the past 6 months. I tend to wait a bit to let the restaurant get on it’s feet a bit and sort out the niggly details that comes with opening a restaurant.

After hearing that Al formerly of Sharky’s was running the food side of things, I excitedly threw out this rule and showed up on opening day. Unfortunately, in my excited state, I forgot to bring my camera.

Interior at the Exchange

Interior at the Exchange

The interior of the Exchange exudes class and was very well designed. Also, I really enjoyed the open air feel of the place with lots of windows let in the breeze and light. I ordered the burger and my wife ordered the braised lamb shank. Both were excellent and the service was impeccable. The only issue was my burger was dripping with juices which made it nice and juicy but turned it into a soppy mess.  Al came over after our meal and I mentioned the juiciness. He winced and mentioned that the staff isn’t properly resting the burger before serving. I didn’t think anything of it as it was the first day.

Fast forward to a week ago where Bryse and I headed back to the Exchange to have one item and one item only: the cheeseburger.

The cheeseburger at the Exchange

The cheeseburger at the Exchange

It’s advertised as the Flame-Grilled Black Angus Beef Burger on the menu and was definitely worth it a second time around. The menu is a mix of  pan-asian and western grilled plates and prices range from 8.00 to 16.00 dollars but we didn’t bother with anything else.

Perfectly cooked cheeseburger at the Exchange

Perfectly cooked cheeseburger at the Exchange

Perfectly cooked to a rare temperature, the burger comes with extremely fresh tomatoes, crispy lettuce, an onion confit and swiss cheese on a not-too sweet sesame seed bun. A side of fries with a garlic aioli and ketchup round out the plate. Not too bad for $7.50. I mentioned in an previous post that T-Bone had the best burger in town but after this one, I have to take that crown off T-Bone and place it squarely on the Exchange burger. The high quality of the imported Australian meat shines through and the fresh garnishes make it the complete package.

Just a little juice

Just a little juice

So next time you are fixing for a burger and are willing to dish out a little more loi, then you can’t go wrong with the burger at the Exchange.

Vinh

Perfectly cooked cheeseburger at the Exchange

Perfectly cooked cheeseburger at the Exchange

A big old flag at the Exchange

A big old flag at the Exchange

The Exchange
#28 Street 47
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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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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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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Central Market makeover

Central Market or Psar Thmei

Central Market or Psar Thmei

Constructed in 1937, Central Market or known as Psar Thmei is one of the must-see attractions of Phnom Penh with it’s iconic art-deco dome. Originally the market consisted of the dome and 4 wings that jutted out from it, over the years the space in between the wings were filled with vendors plying their wares.

Three Central Market images

Before, during and after renovation

In 2009, the French Development Agency gave it a badly needed 4 million dollar facelift where the tin roof stalls in between the wings were torn out and replaced with more permanent structures. One huge improvement to the market was the new food stalls located on the west side of the market. I generally don’t like eating in markets in Phnom Penh as they tend to be a bit dark and dingy for my sensibilities but after experiencing the stalls at Central Market, I think I could make one exception. Considering how busy the market was, I think the renovations were a complete success.

The food stalls inside Central Market

Not a tissue in sight on the floor

The variety of food at the market is staggering, catering to both locals and tourists. Bryse and I first started our journey at a snack stall where we ordered some great fried spring rolls stuffed with tarot (1,000 Riel each) and deep fried vegetables covered with fish paste (4,000 Riel for a set).

Vegetables battered in fish paste

Vegetables battered in fish paste

By that time, we had some company in the form of Bryse’s family that came on over to visit. Bryse’s brothers are foodies, so they were definitely into checking out the local fare. The problem was finding a table large enough to sit the 6 of us!

Luckily, we found one and all it cost was ordering a couple of dishes from the stall that the table belonged to. One of the best things about eating at the markets in Cambodia is that you can pretty much order from any stall in the area and it will be delivered to where you are sitting. Just make sure to order something from the stall that you are sitting in.

Cafeteria style eats at Central Market

Cafeteria style eats at Central Market

We sat at a cafeteria style food stall and ordered fried tofu stuffed with minced pork in a tomato sauce (5,000 Riel) and braised pork belly and bamboo shoot in a coconut caramel sauce (5,000 Riel). This is fare I was very familiar with as my grandmother used to make me these dishes when I was a kid. More on this later.

Tofu just like grandma used to make

Tofu just like grandma used to make

The tofu was pretty amazing but the pork dish was overpowered by the bamboo shoots which I really dislike. During the ordering, I started listening to the stall owners around and realized that most of the stall owners were speaking in Vietnamese which kinda explained the two dishes I had just ordered.

After everyone got their orders, we dug in. A couple of noodle soups, with chicken and beef, some stir-fried noodles and some banh hoi served with pork sausages rounded out the orders. None of the dishes cost more than 8,000 Riel and everyone had a great time sampling some Khmer dishes.

After we finished, I asked Keith (Bryse’s younger brother) if he wanted to try a Khmer dessert. He was definitely game so we walked over to the jelly stand and had a bit of fun ordering some of the slurpy stuff.

Khmer jelly desserts

Khmer jelly desserts

Oodles and oodles of tapioca awaited us while we pointed to what we wanted in our dessert bowls. A little bit of simple syrup, coconut milk and shaved ice completed the concoction (We both shied away from the sweetened condensed milk). I assume he liked it as he finished the whole bowl! I certainly did.

Psar Thmei means New Market in Khmer. It’s strange that the name has stuck with a building that was built over 70 years ago but with the new renovations, it has certainly breathed in new life in the iconic building.

Some more photos from the day:

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Ku Kai

Getting ready for the best meal in town

Getting ready for the best meal in town

“If I had one night in Sihanoukville, I would go here. If I had two, I’d go twice”

One of my dinner mates uttered this comment after finishing a meal in Ku Kai. Considered by many Sihanoukville locals as the best Japanese restaurant in town, it is definitely a place to check out when you are done sunning yourself silly on the beach.

BTW, sorry about the poor quality images. I took these on my iphone as I didn’t bring a camera to the beach.

Queenfish and kingfish sashimi

Queenfish and kingfish sashimi - $2.75 per order

Run by a husband and wife team (he cooks, she takes care of the front of the house), the restaurant exudes a warm, inviting vibe and has some of the friendliest staff I have experienced in Cambodia. Ku Kai offers 2 types of fresh sashimi every night (except for Monday when they are closed) and it is best to call ahead to place an order as it tends to run out very fast. The restaurant also offers set meals (which come with rice, salad and miso soup), rice bowls (comes with miso soup) and various a la carte items.

Sliced rare roast beef

Sliced rare roast beef - $2.50

The prices are very reasonable considering the quality of the dishes and the size of the portions but it is a tough place to find a table after 7:00 so it is definitely recommended to book a table.

Prawn and Vegetable Tempura - $4.75

Prawn and Vegetable Tempura - $4.75

Ku Kai
144 7 Makara St
Head down Ekareach from Serendipity Beach towards Victory Beach. When you see the 333 KTV building on the right, turn left. It is about 200 meters down the road on the righthand side.
Tel: 012 593 339

The red X marks the spot

The red X marks the spot

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Lemony creamy goodness

The 999 restaurant on Street 184

The 999 restaurant on Street 184

There are a group of local restaurants located on Street 184 inbetween Norodom and Street 19. I have never taken too much notice to them as they look like the standard teenager fare, a bit too sugary and loud.

But when an Irish friend kept raving about a drink he could only describe as “lemony creamy goodness”, I knew I had to try.

And it was completely worth it.

Lemony creamy goodness aka the Khmer 50-50 drink

Lemony creamy goodness aka the Khmer 50-50 drink

Described on the menu as “Lemon Tea with Sweet Milk”, the drink is shockingly good. It reminded me of an orange creamsicle, which is never a bad thing.

Fried beef with egg

Fried beef with egg

Khmer banh cuon

Khmer banh cuon

The rest of the menu is quite ordinary with a notable Khmer version of banh cuon with shredded egg and julianned carrots but in all honesty, the reason to head to this restaurant is for the drink.

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