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Ribs Ribs Ribs

A very happy EJ

A very happy EJ

I think everyone who reads this blog knows how fanatical we are about meat on the bone. So when I found out that  Sharky’s was running their 1st ever ribs cookoff, it was an easy decision to join the masses for some meat.

9 competitors vied for the “Piggie” award and with three professional palates taking care of the judging, it was going to be a tough competition!

We were getting hungry and a bit impatient for the ribs to come out, so we ordered some nachos to stave off the hunger until the main event. I have always loved the nachos at Sharky’s. I think it has to do with the copious amounts of cheddar cheese sauce and jalapenos on the plate.

Demolished nachos

Demolished nachos

The judges got their portions of ribs all at once which made practically everyone in the bar (well at least at my table) stare hungrily at all the white styrofoam boxes littered on the judging table. What made it even worse was the announcement from the management that turnout was larger than expected and they may not have enough to go around!

The judging table

The judging table

Fifteen minutes later, the all you can feast of coleslaw, corn on the cob and potato salad was unwrapped, ribs started coming out in white styrofoam boxes and we finally got to eating!

Ribs contestant number 1: Conner

Ribs contestant number 1: Conner

Ribs contestant number 2: Rory's Restaurant

Ribs contestant number 2: Rory's Restaurant

Ribs contestant number 3: Jake from Sharky's

Ribs contestant number 3: Mike from Sharky's

Ribs contestant number 4: Ebony

Ribs contestant number 4: Ebony

Ribs contestant number 5: Chona Correa

Ribs contestant number 5: Chona Correa

Ribs contestant number 6: Lone Star

Ribs contestant number 6: Lone Star

Ribs contestant number 7: Rusty Keyhole

Ribs contestant number 7: Rusty Keyhole

Ribs contestant number 8: Ross

Ribs contestant number 8: Ross

Ribs contestant number 9: Dallas from Alley Cat

Ribs contestant number 9: Dallas from Alley Cat

Ribs contestant number 10: Al from Sharky's

Ribs contestant number 10: Al from Sharky's

I don’t want to go into detail about the ribs except that they were all very good and portion sizes were ample. Also, number 10 was not given to the judges but given to the crowd for the People’s Choice vote.

We were completely stuffed and totally ribbed out when number 10 rolled out. In our group of 10, 8 picked the ribs from Rusty as the clear winner with one vote going to Number 3 and to Number 9 respectively.

In the end, the People’s Choice Award went to Rusty Keyhole in Kampot.

And the winners are:

3rd place: Number 9 which came from Dallas at Alley Cat Cafe

2nd place: Number 3 which came from Mike who owns Jake’s BBQ restaurant located in NYC

1st place: Number 4 which were beef ribs that came from Ebony (no restaurant affiliation)

I have to admit that when I tasted the ribs from Ebony, they were impressive. I  thought they were lamb ribs and the sauce was excellent. Not too sweet and had a subtle roasted garlic taste to it. I tried to get the recipe from Ebony but I think she is keeping it secret for next year!

Many thanks to the Sharky’s crew for organizing this event and I hope to see more of these cookoffs in Cambodia!

Just some more images from the night.

Jake dishing out the goods

Mike dishing out the goods

Bringing out the next contestant

Bringing out the next contestant

Ribs from Dallas

Ribs from Dallas

Someone came prepared!

Someone came prepared!

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Fresh Evening aka 54 Langeach Sros

Translated to English as “Fresh Evening”, 54 Langeach Sros is set in a great location on Street 178 in between Norodom Boulevard and Street 51. Set in a former French villa, there is outdoor seating under a tent and some seating upstairs which can get a bit hot so make sure to grab a seat in the patio. Upon first glance, it looks like your typical beer garden in Cambodia but great food, cheap beers and a lively atmosphere are a few reasons why I have been frequenting this restaurant for the past 6 years (in 2 locations).

For the review, we ordered a few beer garden staples: Fried Rice with Pork, Fried Whole Quail and Grilled Pork Ribs. We also ordered a dish which I have seen at several other beer gardens but is a specialty here. It even comes with a nifty name: Fried Fish on the Fire Lake.

Mmmm…..

The Fried Rice was pretty tasty as I didn’t need to add copious amounts of soy sauce which is a plus. The grilled quail came next. I didn’t really care for it. Too stringy for my tastes.

The Grilled Pork was the polar opposite of the Quail. Awesomely seasoned, there was plenty of it. Come to think of it, I like any type of piece of pork char grilled in Cambodia. So let’s just call this a given recommendation.

Lastly, Fried Fish on the Fire Lake showed up. Placed on a fish shaped metal dish on a burner, the already fried whole fish has a curry coconut sauce placed on top at the table and left to simmer while you make pleasant chit chat about such mundane things as “man drought” and the proper squatting technique. Garnished on the side with some cabbage and herbs along with some rice noodles, the fish was cooked perfectly and the mellow coconut curry sauce was a great in keeping the fish moist along with cooking down some of the garnishes we placed in the sauce.

A great restaurant to check out and try some traditional beer garden food.

4 out of 5 Nyamies

Vinh

We ended up at 54 Langeach Sros when our first choice was closed so I was pretty damn hungry and devoured the first couple of dishes that arrived.  It was probably my hunger but their bai chaa (fried rice) was some of the best I’ve had in PP.  We ordered the fried quail because it would come faster, probably not the best choice.  But as soon as I tried the bbq pork ribs, we immediately ordered another plate (I probably could have gone for two more orders).  Really good seasoning and not too boney like a lot of bbq pork rib dishes around town.

I’m not the biggest fan of fish but the Fried Fish on the Fire Lake has an amazing name and the sauce was really tasty.  Just the right amount of spiciness.  The dish comes with a plate of veggies and the platter is served on a burner so it’s kind of a sloppy hot pot style.  Overall, the pace has a cool, lively atmosphere but not crazy chaotic like some of the other beer gardens.  Definitely one of the better spots in town.

4 out of 5 Nyamies

Bryse

Every time I go to 54 Langeach Sros I wonder why there aren’t more foreigners there — the place embodies everything that is good about Cambodian food. And yet, somehow, there are never any foreigners when I show up and I get to feel like I’m in on some big secret that white people don’t know about yet.

54 Langeach Sros is a beer garden, but a non-offensive beer garden. No annoying music, good lighting, not sleazy. But still inexpensive, delicious food and cheap jugs of beer that seem to somehow refill themselves. The fried rice which was plain but good. Next came the grilled quail, which I notice that Vinh slyly refused to eat, possibly because he was scared of their eye-socket-y heads and sad little curled-up toes [Any aviary dish involving attached heads are a no-no in my book. Comes from being pressured at the tender age of 6 to eat duck embryos by the Family. Vinh] . I ignored this evidence of their prior lives and gnawed on a few. Not bad, but not as amazing as I had heard from various sources that it would be — it was a bit dry and un-exciting for my palate.

Next up was the grilled pork ribs. Generally, I am not a ribs person. I do not care about ribs. But when I come to 54 Langeach Sros, I always end up ordering at least two plates of ribs. They are that good. Seriously.

The final dish was the fish on the lake. This is something that I would never pick on my own. The whole fish buzz is no one that I usually get into because it involves a lot of work and bones and head-wrecking, but I think this one was worth it. I liked that there were substantial vegetables included as part of this dish, because beer garden eating can sometimes be lacking in the leafy greens and fiber department, and the pink gravy-curry-sauce that the fish was bubbling away in was delicious. Served with rice noodles it ticked all of the boxes for me.

Tucking in to the Fried Fish on the Fire Lake

Tucking in to the Fried Fish on the Fire Lake

4.5 out of 5 Nyamies
Lina

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Kampot tales

The view at the Rusty Keyhole.

The view at the Rusty Keyhole and I am not just talking about the ribs.

Kampot is my favorite long weekend destination when a bit of countryside life is needed. Considering its small size (40,000 population), this quirky little riverside town has a large amount of culinary options to choose from.

If I had to make one stop in Kampot for some food, it would have to be the Rusty Keyhole. I have been coming to the Rusty Keyhole for over 5 years now and what keeps me coming back isn’t only the Jurassic sized ribs order but the great hospitality by the owners Kristian and his wife Com. Kristian is a fountain of information if you are into dirt bike riding and with the addition of their 2 year old daughter Kanika, the Keyhole has a great family feel to the place. Over the past year, the Keyhole has moved to a location just outside Kampot town that gives you a slice of countryside life. For those who want to stay in town, Kristian is planning a new location in town and it should be open a couple of weeks from now Its open now!

Okay back to the ribs. They aren’t your typical ribs as Kristian keeps the loin with the order but manages to keeps the meat moist by a closely guarded par-boiling process. The ribs are then grilled to order, a choice of starch is added along with some fresh cut veggies on the side. Heaven on a plate. $6 for a small order, $8 for a large.

Ribs grilling at the Rusty Keyhole in Kampot

Ribs grilling at the Rusty Keyhole in Kampot

Another place that demands recognition is Mea Culpa. A guesthouse located just 5 minutes walk from the center of town, their wood-fired oven pizzas are the goods.

Getting the oven ready for some pies

Getting the oven ready for some pies

Probably the best pizza in Cambodia, the pizzas only take 3 minutes to cook in the 650 degree oven. You can see how much care Ben takes into his final product, inspecting every single plate coming out of the kitchen.I asked Ben, the owner of Mea Culpa, why his pizzas are so damn good and he answered simply “Its all about the crust”.

The crust on the Margherita pizza at Mea Culpa

Nice and firm

I ordered the Margherita pizza ($5.50 for a Medium) which had a generous amount of cheese that didn’t overpower sauce. I also had the feta cheese, tomato and basil dip ($3.00). The punchy tomato sauce was tempered by a generous portion of feta cheese. Homemade melba toast accompanies.

Feta and Basil dip at Mea Culpa in Kampot

Feta and Basil dip at Mea Culpa in Kampot

Some other noteworthy places in Kampot:

Blissful Guesthouse for their amazing duck egg omelettes.

Bamboo Light for Sri Lankan dishes.

Bar Red for their gargantuan late night samosas.

Epic Arts for their gooey chocolate brownie and other pastries.

Rikitikitavi for their 1st floor deck with stunning views of the river. Best place in town for a sunset drink.

Ta Ouv Restaurant for some fresh seafood.

Addresses: Kampot has no street names but it’s a small enough town to get around.

Just ask any tuk tuk driver. Even better, rent a bicycle and do some exploring.

Vinh

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