Food & Cuisine in Phnom Penh
Unique and wonderful culinary experiences await travellers in Phnom Penh. Visitors can expect to sample the best of local French influenced cuisine, traditional Khmer food as well as some top notch Vietnamese and Thai delicacies. The best place to start in the city is the riverfront where you can try the whole range of local Phnom Penh cuisine - from the street side stalls to fine dining Phnom Penh restaurants. For a more local feel head westward away from the river to stumble across local stalls; where the vast majority of Khmers eat. Teamworkz personal recommendations for street food are: fried noodles, sweet sticky rice and amok chicken curry. For a nice afternoon away from the hustle and bustle; take the ferry to the other side of the river and enjoy simple and inexpensive fare as you sit on mats and gaze out at a view of the city.
After a heavy day of sightseeing or shopping in Phnom Penh, a meal of the local hot pot Yao hon or some freshly baked baguettes used to mop up the spicy chicken curry called Samlor kari are just what you need. Use our Phnom Penh Restaurant Guide (Click on the 'Eating Locally' tab above) to see a huge list of restaurants in Phnom Penh. We also have some general information and suggestions on eating out in Cambodia.
From the street side stall to the bistro, Phnom Penh's restaurants will entice your taste buds.
As recent as ten years ago, Phnom Penh had only around ten restaurants where you could enjoy the local cuisine. Today there are hundreds of Phnom Penh restaurants, from chic upmarket places to pavement joints and open noodle bars. From French to Khmer, American style grills to Chinese noodle fares, the city has it all.
The restaurants in Phnom Penh are bound to excite the foodie in you. New Phnom Penh restaurants, with varied and special menus, are opening almost every day, appealing to a variety of tastes. Cambodian cuisine has borrowed some methods and ingredients from France and Vietnam as well as Thailand to create a delicious, flavoursome, yet milder Asian taste that's typically Cambodian.
Khmer cuisine makes use of locally sourced ingredients like coconuts, seafood, bananas, papaya, ginger, peanuts and chillies and is less spicy than the food in neighbouring Thailand. Rice is vital to the average local's diet and makes an appearance at all meals including breakfast. Sticky rice is used in desserts and is often served with fresh tropical fruit, making for a light and fresh tasting end to the meal. Noodles find favour as an alternative to rice with some curries and soups. Thanks to years of French occupation, you can make a meal of some freshly baked baguette eaten local-style with eggs, tinned sardines or pâté.
Kuyteav - Chinese rice noodle soup garnished with bean sprouts, onions and cilantro
Kari - Curry, much like an Indian gravy based dish
Samlor kari - Spicy coconut chicken curry usually served with baguettes
Banh Chiao - Savoury pancakes stuffed with shrimp, pork, bean sprouts and served with a dipping sauce and greens
Cha knyey - A pepper and ginger chicken stir fry
Amok trey - Coconut milk based steamed fish, wrapped in banana leaves
Ansom chek - Rice cake filled with banana and steamed in banana leaves
Ansom chrook - Rice cake filled with pork and mung beans
Bok L'hong - Papaya salad containing roasted peanuts, string beans, Thai basil, chillies, cherry tomatoes and even dried fish and fermented crabs
Babar Praey - Salted rice porridge
Caw - Caramelized palm sugar flavoured chicken or pork stew with eggs
Bai cha - Fried rice with Chinese sausages, garlic and herbs
Ban Hoaw - Spring rolls made with an egg wrapper filled with steamed rice noodles, peanuts, pickled vegetables and mint
Jroak sway - Raw mango salad with a fish sauce dressing; makes a good accompaniment to fish and rice
Loc Lac - Beef and onion stir fry served with a lime and pepper dipping sauce
Pleah - Onion, herb and grilled beef salad
Yao hon - Hot pot in which noodles, mushrooms, beef, shrimp and spinach are dipped
Sankya Lapov - Coconut and Pumpkin flan
'Dining with a Conscience'
Whilst eating out in Phnom Penh you also have the option of "dining with a conscience" by patronising any of Phnom Penh's restaurants run and owned by aid organisations. The proceeds from these restaurants go towards their humanitarian operations and their staff are often disadvantaged or poor Cambodians receiving skills training. You'll find some of these listed below.
Eating Out Tips
While on your gastronomic journey through Phnom Penh, exercise a little caution when it comes to eating out. Avoid uncooked food and salads to stay safe, and stick to drinking bottled water.