Tag Archives: Khmer

Fox Wine Bistro

The Bar

Fox is the latest offering by the entrepreneurs who brought Brown to Phnom Penh, and it has a lot of the same things going for it: well-trained staff, great interior spaces, and a mission to make Cambodian clientele feel at home in a typically Western setting. If you go, go at night; take friends or a date, enjoy the wine and the buzz of conversations in Khmer and western languages, and be open to some interesting Asian spins on the kind of dishes you find at Deco or Topaz.

Indoor/Outdoor Seating

But OK, because we were taking photographs, Bryse, Anna, Peter and I went in the middle of the day one Saturday. It was kind of empty, and we didn’t have any wine, so we basically opted out of two of Fox’s top selling points. We also didn’t order any of the over $10 options on the menu. With those caveats, here are our thoughts on some of the dishes as we experienced them in the harsh, sober light of day.


Fox serves a great-looking “burger”; well-toasted bun (complete with subtle “Fox” bun brand), sloppy egg on top, and with a decent side of wilted greens for a dash of healthiness. However, look under the hood and you’ll discover that this is not a standard ground beef patty, but rather, a small pile of saucy beef cubes. If I had ulterior motives, I could spin this as a groundbreaking Asian fusion burger, but to be honest, it was a little weird and disappointing, particularly compared to other Nyam Penh burger adventures. Also, where are the fries? For $6.50 or less, you can get way better, more traditional burgerage in Phnom Penh.

Mini Burgers

The mini-burgers look adorable and taste pretty good. Unlike the regular sized burger, these have more traditional patty structure and texture. Alas, the truly delightful burger physics of juicy-centeredness and outer-crustiness are rarely found at this quantum level, and even as mini burgers go, these didn’t have that much meat. But Fox mini burgers, how can I look at Anna’s picture of your tiny Fox buns and write you off as not worthwhile? At $5-$6, they are not a bad choice for an appetizer.

Whatever Roswell Ordered

The chicken has a very Western presentation, and yet the flavors are all Khmer. The sauce reminded us of amok, with delicious notes of lemongrass. I could have used some rice, though; like with the “burger,” it seemed conspicuously carb deficient. It was particularly odd that it didn’t come with rice, since, according to the waitress, this is a dish designed for Cambodian diners who aren’t in the mood for our exotically ethnic food (“they say it is too bland,” she explained) and prefer something they’re used to. To a Westerner, on the other hand, it is a very intriguing take on a gourmet chicken dish. A little steep at $8, but worth a try.

Fox Bistro Anna Clare Spelman-8

This is the goat cheese beet root salad with strawberries and walnuts. Unfortunately, there are only two slices of strawberries, very few beet roots, and not a lot of goat cheese — and the goat cheese, unfortunately, doesn’t have that crumble to its creaminess that usually makes goat cheese worthwhile, it was closer to standard cream cheese in blandness and texture. In addition to the vinagrette on the side, the salad leaves came already dressed in oil, making the whole thing unexpectedly greasy.

For the above dishes, we stuck with the under-$10 options. Our waitress, who was very helpful and well-spoken, noted that the more expensive dishes (Australian rib-eye; lamb; etc) were the most popular, and I would spring for those next time I go back. And I will go back. Like I said at the top, it’s a good scene at night, and it’s nice to have a Western restaurant that really feels like it has grown up in the new, cosmopolitan Cambodia.


-photos by Anna.



Filed under Uncategorized

Rice & Pork Breakfast

Pork & Rice Shop

Rice & Pork Shop

On the corner of streets 136 and 13 there is a typical Cambodian grilled pork and rice breakfast restaurant. The reason we decided to check out this restaurant, which is apparently called “126”, is because there were reports that they had the best rice and pork in Phnom Penh. For a bit of background on breakfast rice and pork, or bai sach chrouk, check out this Phnomenon post from a few years back.

pork and rice

pork and rice

First of all, Cambodian pork and rice isn’t my favorite breakfast. It’s not bad but definitely not exciting. It’s a relatively safe order when out in the field but I’ve never had a craving. But after hearing that this was the best in town, I was excited. Vinh and I had checked out the well known Sovana BBQ restaurant for breakfast a couple of years ago and their pork was solid but it has been a while since I had really good pork and rice.

Unfortunately, with the build up, it was a let down. Decent rice and pork but nothing that made it stand out from any other restaurant in Phnom Penh or out in the Provinces. It’s really just rice and grilled pork. Not particularly amazing pork, no special sauce, Cambodian white rice; that’s it.



The coffee wasn’t bad, strong and sweetened with condensed milk, and the place was packed so there was high turnover on the grill which is good. However, the soup was basically just liquefied msg and had a weird fishy flavor. Overall, it’s not a bad place to bring an out of town guest for an experience but I’m in no rush to go back.

2 out of 5 nyamies

– Bryse

the grill

the grill

I am not a morning person, but if there is one thing that consistently causes me to peel my eyes open and get out of bed before 8AM on weekdays, it is food. Cambodia is well-suited for those with raging early-morning hunger pangs, as it offers a particularly hearty breakfast dish – bai sach chrouk (rice and grilled pork). Despite two years in Phnom Penh, I had yet to try the dish. Having heard a strong recommendation, claiming ‘Restaurant 126’ to serve some of the best in town, we decided to see if it was worth the 7AM wake up call.

up close

up close

While my taste buds may have been over stimulated by the adrenaline of trying a new dish and disoriented by the early hour, I thought the pork and rice was pretty tasty. The pork was sweet, flavorful and grilled to perfection; reminded me of eating a thick slab of bacon with maple syrup…Hard to go wrong there. The counterpart to this dish was basic, pretty mediocre, white rice, but it served its purpose as a blank canvas for the pork.



Along with the pork and rice, diners receive a small bowl of broth and a dish of pickled vegetables. The broth was also nothing to write home about, salty and hot, but a nice contrast to the sweet pork, as well as adding another flavor option for the rice. The pickled vegetables were a showstopper though; carrots, cucumbers, and jicama all mildly pickled with a sweet tang and light crunch. I could have eaten everyone’s serving. We all accompanied our breakfasts with hot coffee. Though tiny in size, it packed a strong, intensely sweet punch, thanks to a generous dose of condensed milk and that characteristic chocolate-y flavor of Cambodian coffee.

While I don’t think I’ll make ‘Restaurant 126’ a regular morning routine, it was fun to wake up early and share my first meal of the day with a crowd. And I wasn’t hungry again until mid-afternoon.

3 out of 5 nyamies

– Alissa

126 Restaurant
Corner of Streets 136 and 13
Close to river side

Leave a comment

by | September 2, 2013 · 6:57 am

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