It’s been a hot minute since I last posted on my favorite spots in Phnom Penh. Although the pool generally stays small, there are always new places opening up, improving their crafts, and offering fresh options. I remember when I first decided to move and the numerous questions I had. Although I knew the city had a vibrant nightlife, a multitude of dining options, and plenty of bars to sip at it was difficult to know exactly where the desirable places would be.
While Cambodia Pocket Guide and Door2Door certainly helped, I was disappointed in the lack of blogs sharing information about the local gems. Maybe this will reach a questioning soul somewhere off in the wild West or one of my pals back home who have been saying they’ll come visit.
Post note: after writing the post, I found the entire thing to be about food. So there you have it.
Freebird Bar & Grill
I love traditions but in Southeast Asia, it can be hard to hold onto old ones. There is, however, the new tradition and wonder of Sunday brunch. Although The Exchange gets an honorable mention for their serious Sunday roast (all you can eat roasts et al for $16 and buy one get one free cocktails) I’ve found myself at Freedbird for Sunday brunch the past nine or so weeks. While their beefy mac n cheese and jalapeno poppers are fantastic for a later hour snack, I haven’t yet found anywhere in Cambodia who serves hot biscuits and creamy gravy and gives you both coffee and orange juice refills alongside every breakfast order. The chilled and scented cool towels they present to you upon arrival is almost on its own enough to make you return and the private dining area in the back equipped with a TV makes eating homemade hot pockets and watching Snatch in unison an awesome option.
#69, Street 240, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
+(855) 023 224712
Growing up in the Northwest left me spoiled for choice when it came to the seafood department. I was raised on a healthy diet of tender, nutty salmon and wonderfully chewy clams doused in chive infused butter and halibut white as snow pan fried in fluffy batter and served with crispy French fries. When I started working at Marrow, a gourmet gastro bar, I was introduced to tangy, tiny Kumamoto oysters in tart lingonberry mignonette and lightly salted baby octopus accompanied by spicy chorizo and red pepper coulis. Since I was a toddler, I had always hoped I was secretly a mermaid and that one day some forgiving seawitch would release me from my two-legged existence and cast me back into the ocean to live the rest of my days feasting on sushi. It looks like that won’t be happening, so I’m happy to have found Sonoma Oyster. Not only are the oysters gigantic (not so much a choice for me, as I prefer smaller and sweet breeds of shelled life) doused in an assortment of sauces and prepared on an open grill. Sonoma also offers an orange rind pate that will have you on your knees. The champagne always leaves a faint smile on my lips and chased with soft chewy clams and warm, yeasty bread makes the dining experience mermaid worthy.
159Eo Street 278, BKK1, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
+(855) 23 223 617
If you’re a fan of buttery, velvety cheese as much as I am, ricotta go to Tell. We visited this restaurant back in December for Allison’s birthday dinner and went for the fondue and stayed for the pork knuckle. Honestly, this place is so gouda (okay I’ll stop) I find myself thinking of it weekly. With a lack of fondue establishments (anyone want to invest? I’ve been thinking of this one for a while) this is the only place in town that serves the molten goodness that I am aware of. It’s not super cheap at $17 for 400mg of cheese, but when paired with French Onion Soup and the Oktoberfest platter you’ll be sure to be full of gooey, rich Swiss and German fare.
#13 Street 90, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
+(855) 023 430 650
Chuck Norris Dim Sum
I’m not a fan of Street 51 for a number of reasons. Maybe it’s the abundant pasty sexpats (see posting:“Peeves”), saddening flocks of sex workers, backpack and Birkenstock clad drunken travelers falling off plastic chairs, or dodging puddles of unknown liquids and the questionable piles of sludge. You could literally only catch me dead at Heart of Darkness and I’ve only been drunk enough once to wander into Pontoon but I find myself strolling the street of seedy nightlife weekly for one thing: Chuck Norris Dim Sum. According to the menu, the “tea is free bitches”, the happy hour is unbeatable at 3 plates for $5 from 11am to 9pm, the Kampot Pepper gyoza is like a gift from finger food heaven, and I think I could bathe in the sour dipping sauce: a definite destination and a perfect way to start (or end) the night. Also, how can you not love names like Spicy Momo Pork Buns and Panda Buns?
Street 51 opposite Heart of Darkness, Phnom Penh , Cambodia
Sesame Noodle Bar
I like to torture myself when it comes to lunch. To break up the work day, I always tend to crave deep pan pizza or double cheeseburgers slathered in cheese and sriracha. While I bask in savory, greasy bliss during the lunch hour, I generally find myself evading sleep while heavily digesting and fighting the lethargic pull downwards when I put heavy foods down my gullet. That is, until Sesame Noodle Bar and I had the pleasure of making acquaintance A few minutes away from my office near The Russian Market, this small yet open and sunny noodle joint offers light cold noodle salads fusing Japanese, Chinese, and Americana cuisine to create one of the best lunches available. The atmosphere is a bit of Urban Outfitters (toy figurines and pop art pictures) and a hint of Restoration Hardware (gorgeous Edison lights draped across the eatery) and proves to be a sweet getaway from the dusty streets in hot season. The lunch sets (less than $5) include a bowl of the chewy, lightly oiled noodles with caramelized pork with a coating of Tahini sauce and your choice of a Thor Bun (steamed bun with a strip of savory pork belly, pickled vegetables and a spray of hoisin and Sriracha) or an option of two pork or vegetable gyoza. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so I was surprised to discover my recent obsession with the Chocolate Sesame Bombs: lightly fried mochi balls rolled in black sesame seeds, filled with devilishly rich melted dark chocolate, drizzled with saccharine caramel with a chilled side of creamy vanilla ice cream. Even as filling as the entire meal sounds, I always find myself back at the office with a full belly and a renewed willingness to carry on.
#9 Street 460, Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
I’ve written about Bar.Sito in past posts, but a favorites list wouldn’t be complete without Sito joining the ranks. Bar.Sito, derived from the Spanish meaning “small bar”, has managed to maintain their standard of quality cocktails, wine choices, and enjoyable tunes while keeping up with their quickly amassing hometown fame. I tend to try and get in here a bit earlier on weekends )and when I say early I mean 8:30pm so I can be in my pajamas by midnight) since it gets packed to the brim by 10pm. I love seeing the owners there each time we drink, enjoying themselves, taking care of their patrons, and helping their staff (who are amazing). I don’t always drink cocktails, but when I do, I go to Bar.Sito.
No. 32EO, Street 240, Phnom Penh, Cambodia+(855) 077 555 447