I’ve heard the hype on Phnom Penh for quite some time now but never had the urge to try them out. I’ve been to Cambodia before and I wasn’t overly impressed by their food so I was skeptical on how good Phnom Penh could be. Boy, was I wrong (although technically, this is Cambodian-Vietnamese food so not truly 100% Cambodian).
We went on a Thursday afternoon and the place was packed. How are all Van restaurants so busy? I don’t understand (I do but it’s nice to complain about it). We came on an off hour so we didn’t have to wait long. The menu is large and lots of interesting options caught my eye. So many things to eat, never enough time or stomach space.
Hot and sour soup with fish (#45) ($12.95 small)
Prepared with fresh cod, tomatoes, pineapple, mint leaves and other tropical spices. Holy crap, this was off-the-charts good! Sour, sweet (pineapple in the soup works surprisingly well), this soup is packed with depth and flavour. So many wonderful flavours tantalize your taste buds and makes you want to slurp up the broth all to yourself. Definitely order one. A small was more than enough for the three of us to share.
Black pepper squid (L) ($15.50)
Stir-fried fresh squid with onions in a black pepper sauce. Beware, this has a bit of heat to it and is quite peppery but the squid was tender and cooked perfectly. The only complaint we had was with the onions – some of the pieces we bit into were raw. Not the most pleasant surprise.
Dry two kinds of noodles (rice and egg noodles) (#6) ($7.95)
Two kinds of noodles with prawns, pork, pork innards, ground pork and dried shrimp. Served dry with a mushroom soy sauce and a soup on the side. Look how colourful and beautiful that bowl looks. Never seen anything like it back in Alberta. The sauce gets lost in the noodles so make sure you add the soup to moisten it up a bit. This one was pretty toned down flavour-wise compared to everything else we ordered.
Sauteed pea tips (E) ($13.95)
Freshly picked pea tips sauteed with garlic. I figured it would be a good idea to order some vegetables to combat all the meat and fried dishes. They were nicely sauteed and had a crunchy, tasty bite. Pea tips are da bomb. Too bad they are always so expensive!
Deep fried chicken wings (#78) ($13.50 large)
Deep-fried chicken wings with garlic and served with a lemon and pepper sauce. This is their bread and butter dish. Excellently executed. Crispy outside, juicy tender insides, the wings come with addictive bits of deep fried garlic gold. Don’t forget about dipping them into the unique lemon-lime sauce.
Phnom Penh lives up to the hype! Definitely a must visit if you’re in town. Don’t just order all the popular dishes everyone raves about. Live a little and try something else! Delicious food, I’ve been converted (at least to Cambodian-Vietnamese restaurants).
244 E Georgia Street