Going Amok in Cambodia
Going Amok is a must do in Cambodia, if you are going to try traditional Khmer food. Amok is the name of a tasty dish that includes steamed catfish and a coconut-curry sauce with special Khmer ingredients, which make it very spicy. We had our Amok with rice and mango shake which was a good combination of burning and easing.
Eating out in Phnom Penh means looking around a bit for good places but there are basic burger-spaghetti dishes that appease tourists, as well as some decent restaurants for Westerners serving traditional Khmer dishes scattered around town. Unless you dive right in and eat at sidewalk places marked by piles of thrown away food residues and dirty napkins. Never been fussy about street side cuisine, but here the obvious lack of hygiene, trashing and spitting around oneself is a major turn off.
Even at the posh pizza restaurant at Sorya shopping mall eating manners stay the same, so that at the end of the day waiters scrub off food residues off the seating with buckets of water and cleaning equipment. The ‘cheese’ has a s fluid like appearance and smells like vanilla butter. The one thing to actually refrain from is cheese. Cambodian food supplies do not typically include dairy products, milk is expensive and imported, yogurt not very popular. Cheese will usually be off, in case you are wondering where that moldy smell comes from: it is your meal :)
Cambodian waiters are very friendly but have a tendency to slow motion, still trying to meet westerner’s needs as good as possible. If you ask for knives and forks because they forgot to bring it to you, they will bring it, always eager to satisfy. When you order something don’t expect it to look the same next time you order it – basically, keep culinary expectations at threshold levels and Phnom Penh will serve you fine without going Amok :)
A good, clean and moderately priced restaurant we liked to come back to was The Sugar Palm.
Attractive Amok in banana leaf wrapping.
Less attractive Amok in bowl dish.
No stunner in taste but nicely presented: stir fried noodles.
Yummy curry tofu with vegetables.
A delicious choice: the fish dish.
Wake up your taste buds to super tasty veggie spring rolls with Asia’s best chili sauce and tofu on sticks. Watch the mango shake disappear as well.
The starter set – looking good but don’t judge the feta cheese rolls by its cover.
Our favorite drink: the mango shake. Unfortunately this one smelled like rotten egg.
Scary oversized portion at a daunting post communist restaurant: Ordering fish with mango sauce Tomek got this carelessly fried and served fish. Just another silent reminder to go veggie all the way.
Desert is the best!