Phnom Penh 金邊小館Posted: 05/27/2012
Hello again! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful week, even though the next long weekend we have to look forward to in Canada is about a month from now. To help tie you over, here’s a food post (because food makes everything better)!
Because of finals, we couldn’t celebrate Jess’ birthday with her last month, so we decided to do it this month. I was pleasantly surprised with Jess’ restaurant choice in Phnom Penh Cambodian food, as I had heard very good things about both the food and service there. So without further ado, here’s Jess’ birthday post!
I was quite shocked when David and I drove by and saw a few groups of people waiting outside the restaurant for seats. I knew the restaurant was popular, but I had never been, despite passing all the time when my mom and I go grocery shopping in Chinatown. Inside, the restaurant was just as crowded, with all the tables and the waiting area packed full of people. In fact, it was so busy that we (Jess, Angie, Hui, Su, Pickles, Dolph, Jeri, David, Darek, Chan and I) had to wait a while before being seated, even though we had a reservation.
Jess had ordered in advance 3 of the #71 Marinated Thit Bo (Marinated Butter Beef), so these arrived soon after we sat down. Served with their house special sauce, and a ton cilantro and fried garlic, this was a really great appetizer to start off our dinner. The beef was mostly raw with a little cooked strip, and was quite tender. Although the beef wasn’t very buttery, it certainly wasn’t lacking in flavour, as the tangy, vinegary sauce coupled with the toppings made for a very impactful bite.
Jess ordered the Deep Fried Chicken Wings beforehand as well. Served with a lemon-pepper dipping sauce, these super crispy wings were brought over fresh from the kitchen. In terms of flavouring, I detected a slight lemongrass hit in addition to the garlic, chili peppers and other spices that were plated with the wings. It’s pretty hard to screw up chicken wings, and I’m glad to say that Phnom Penh didn’t fall into that sad, sad category. Our group demolished nearly all 4 plates, so I think it’s safe to say that we enjoyed them. My only complaint about this was that there were a lot of wing tips mixed in with the wingettes and drumettes, so that the plates were deceptively full.
Our sole rice dish was the #35 Com Bo Luc Lac (Filet Beef Luc Lac on Rice). This was served with a side of vegetables (a cucumber is missing because Chan stole it before I could take a picture) and a perfectly fried, sunny-side-up egg. Our general consensus was that this plate, while good, was nothing spectacular; in fact, some thought that it was a little too hyped up. I liked the slight sweetness of the sauce; when mixed together with a generous portion of tender beef and egg, there was just enough flavour, and nothing was too overwhelming.
For our soup, we had the #46 Phnom Penh Hot+Sour Soup with Prawns. This was a far cry from the starch thickened tofu, bamboo shoot and wood-ear mushroom soups I’ve been accustomed to. Instead, this was a broth characterized more by its tartness than spiciness. In addition to the prawns, there were also tomatoes, and (surprisingly) pineapple chunks. It was seasoned with mint and a variety of spices, including lemongrass. Darek commented that the pineapples made it a little too sweet for his taste, and I have to say I agree. Overall, I thought that this soup was pretty interesting (I’ve never had such a sour soup before), and while it tasted good, I wish it were more spicy, as there was barely any heat to it.
Next up was the #72 Hao Chien Trieu Chau (Fried Oyster Cake), which was a large pancake-like dish made with oysters and topped with cilantro. I liked that the edges of the pancake were crisp and that there were a lot of oysters; Dolph and others, though, thought that it was a little bit “snotty” in the middle (as in, it was goopy and thick). This was probably due to the large amount of oil used to fry up the pancake, making it, as Darek dubbed it, perfect hangover food. In general, we thought that this tasted as it should.
One of the last dishes to be served was the #81 Cary Ga Nam Vang (Curry Chicken Hot Pot). There was no absence of coconut flavour or heat in this curry, making it a very tasty dish. There were a lot of ingredients in the pot, including onions and yams– I was surprised that they used yams instead of potatoes in the curry, but it certainly provided a different texture to the dish. We actually ordered a side of plain rice to go with the curry so that we could enjoy more of the sauce! Finally, we had the requisite veggie dish in the #90 Cai Lan Xao (Sauteed Gai Lan). We thought this was pretty standard, albeit a little on the oily side. The gai lan was cooked just right, retaining a healthy crunch.
Overall, I thought that our meal was pretty decent, although some things were a little too oily for my taste. The service was more than adequate, considering how busy the place was, and also that it’s family-run. My favourite touch is that the restaurant turns off all the lights when they bring out the birthday cake, and the servers (along with many other patrons) sing happy birthday to the birthday person– it makes for a very warm and friendly environment that I would definitely go to again, even if it’s slightly out of the way. I can definitely see why Phnom Penh is so popular!
Phnom Penh 金邊小館
244 East Georgia Street