Eating out in Phnom Penh

street food in Phnom Penh
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Updated 2019-11-04 10:41

Cambodian food tends to get overlooked in favour of its much more famous neighbours, Vietnam and Thailand. Many foreigners think that it is similar to these cuisines or a mix of the two, but it is actually a distinct cuisine that is older than the aforementioned.

The local food scene

Cambodian food has a not so good reputation from foreign visitors, but it is not deserved. Most foreigners never try Khmer food out of concern for food safety. While safety standards aren't as good as Thailand or Vietnam, the cuisine here is still something that you need to experience when you live or visit Phnom Penh.

The city has some of the best restaurants in the country, and you can find all kinds of Khmer food as well as international eats.

Popular dishes to try in Phnom Penh

There are many unique dishes from Cambodia that are worth trying. The most common breakfast dishes are bai sach chrouk (grilled pork and rice) and kuy teav (a hearty pork noodle soup). The best kuy teav can be found at Orousey Noodle opposite the Orussey Market, while you can get the best bai sach chrouk at Frank coffee, a cute local restaurant located in Wat Svay Popei.

The best places for eating out in Phnom Penh

If you want some Western comfort food instead of local eats, try out Java Creative Cafe, which offers some of the tastiest Western food in Phnom Penh.

Breakfast and dinner tend to be the most popular times to eat out. Many local restaurants close for lunch, but you can still find some options, especially with more upscale or international options. One of the best international restaurants is Warung Bali, a fantastic Indonesian restaurant located next to the royal palace. It's not fancy, but you go for the delicious food and incredibly friendly employees.

For a more upscale option, you can try lots of hard to find Khmer dishes from the well-renowned restaurant, Romdeng. They are an NGO that makes lots of amazing dishes, including the best fish amok (a steamed curry that, despite what some blogs say, is hard to find in Phnom Penh)

Food markets in Phnom Penh

The food scene comes to life at night. Most restaurants are open and streets fill with food vendors, especially around markets. You are spoiled for choices and can find good food all over the city. You can head to Ourussey market, which fills with street food and good restaurants. The Chinese pulled noodle restaurant next to the market is one of the most popular restaurants in the area and is definitely worth checking out. Another incredibly popular local restaurant is the unnamed seafood barbecue restaurant that lies on the south end of the Russian Market. By day, this restaurant functions as a motorcycle parking lot. But by night, it becomes one of the most popular restaurants in the area. Go for the grilled squid and prawns or the Kep crab cooked with Kampot pepper. There are three seafood stalls on the south end. The best is the biggest one, but the smaller ones offer really tasty salt grilled seafood a dish that the bigger restaurant does not offer.

Street food in Phnom Penh

If you're looking for a cheap meal or a quick snack, head to the streets for some tasty street food. While the sanitation standards aren't as good as it's neighbours, you can still find really good and affordable options. Remember to look for stalls that are crowded with locals, as this is always a sign of quality. While there are lots of street food options, they are not as easy to find as they are in Bangkok or Hanoi. They tend to cluster in and around local markets and on specific side streets. Your best bet is to go to a local market around breakfast or dinner and walk around. You will almost always find something delicious. The standard offerings are grilled meats (anything from pork to frogs), boiled corn, fried noodles, and Khmer curries (which tend to not have a rich gravy-like other curries in the region). Most of these options will cost you less than 8,000 Riel (USD2).

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