To say Phnom Penh is the most popular Vietnamese/Columbia restaurant in all of the Greater Mainland is an understatement, the lineups for this place can go on for days. Being in Chinatown didn’t detour anyone from coming here, riddled with awards and certificate on the walls when you enter, the hustle and bustle of everyone eager to have a seat, you know you’re at the right place.
No surprise, it took forever for us to be seated, but once we were there was no need to even look through the menu.
Dat buttah beef! This is THE dish that is the must-order of Phnom Penh. If you haven’t heard or seen pictures of this insanely delicious dish, you must be living under a rock. Don’t let the rawness get to you, it the perfect doneness that will melt in your mouth, together with the citric fish sauce dressing, cilantro, fried garlic & shallots – it melded perfectly in my mouth, like the name suggested, it melted like butter. I could have easily devoured two servings of this by myself.
Another dish you see on every table, their deep fried chicken wings. That or the frog legs, which I was reluctant to try this time. It was perfectly crisp and tender, the batter being just right to lock in all the juices without being oily. The thing that actually makes this dish is the dipping sauce; a concoction of lime juice, white and black pepper, a usual condiment in Vietnamese cooking. It adds the right amount of tanginess to the dish, bringing it to a whole new dimension.
Green Papaya Salad
This was something new that Fatboy wanted to try, he’s had similar in Thai restaurants before and really enjoyed it. This was not the Thai version, though It was an interesting dish. With julienned green papayas and carots, Thai basil, toasted peanuts, shredded beef jerky and blanched prawns, it was something I’ve never had before. The papaya was much harder in texture than what I had in mind, different from the typical orange papayas, theses were not at all sweet. Though it was quite refreshing, it felt like I was just eating unripe fruit, the crumbled beef jerky and peanuts did add a little to the dish. I wouldn’t say this was a bad dish, more something I’m not accustomed to.
Phnom Penh Rice Noodles
Being in what was labeled a “Vietnamese” restaurant, my natural instincts of ordering Phở kicked in. I should have caught onto the warning signs when, in brackets, it tells you that the noodles were “Cambodian Style”. Another indication would have been that no one else seemed to be having soupy noodle dishes, and more rice, but being a noodle lover more I had to. It was pretty loaded, with beef balls, tendon, brisket and slices of raw beef. Only problem is, it wasn’t Phở.
The soup was not bad, it was just not the flavours I was hoping or expecting when I took my first sip. I’ll take this as a lesson to just stick to what I know, unless someone in the group knows better.
I highly recommend Phnom Penh to everyone, whether you’re out of town or a local that never heard or been to here, which is amazing. Just order their signature dishes that everyone else has, you will not be disappointed. It is so addictive, you won’t stop raving about them.