As mentioned previously I spent the previous week in Cambodia’s lovely capital, Phnom Penh. The visit wouldn’t have been half as fun if it wasn’t for the help of the friendly bloke above, Phil of Phnomenon. He was kind enough to accompany me to countless restaurants, food stalls and markets, and taught me a lot about his host country’s unknown and underrated cuisine. One of the places he took me to was the slightly upscale Khmer restaurant, Sweet Cafe. I let Phil handle the ordering, and we began with what is possibly Cambodia’s most famous dish, amok:
This dish is typically a steamed mixture of fish, herbs and curry paste, and takes several forms, but Sweet’s slightly soupy version fit my preconceived notion of what the dish would be like. It was also the most delicious of the several I consumed during the week.
This was followed by a delicious “salad” of slightly sour shredded mango and the smoked fish known in Thai as plaa krob (“crunchy fish”):
This dish was sour, but not unpleasantly so, and had a delicious smokey flavour courtesy of the fish. Phil explained that Khmer cooking often emphasizes one flavour per dish, rather than trying to reach a balance of sour/spicy/salty/sweet as many of its neighbouring cuisines do.
One of the more unusual dishes of the meal was this “omelet” of ground pork and a kind of dried fish called trei prama:
Much like the Thai nam phrik, this dish was served with a variety of fresh, crispy vegetables, and it provided the salty aspect of our meal.
And finally there was the obligatory sour soup, a style of cooking that Phil feels is the true soul of Khmer cooking, and a variety of dishes I really learned to love during my time in Phnom Penh:
The particular soup above is known as samlaw machou yuan, “Vietnamese sour soup”, and took the form of a clear broth with huge hunks of freshwater fish and a variety of vegetables including pineapple and white radish. The soup was topped with a variety of fresh herbs and crispy fried garlic. It was, like much of the food I ate in Phnom Penh, simple but delicious.
More Phnom Penh pics to follow shortly…
Sweet Cafe & Restaurant
#21B, St. 294
+855 12 999 119