It is often said that Cambodian food is just Thai food without the chilies, but that is somewhat unfair. While it is true that Cambodia has been heavily influenced by its neighbors, both Thailand to the west and Vietnam to the east, and even by the French colonists from the past, there is also a distinct Khmer cuisine which shouldn't be forgotten or minimized. Indochina Odyssey Tours knows what to eat when doing Cambodia tours and would love to share this important information with you.
Being one of the oldest living cuisines in the world, Cambodia food, or Khmer cuisine, is renowned for its freshness, simplicity, seasonality and regionalism.
The Cambodians love strong and vibrant taste of flavors, such as sweet, sour, and salty. Plenty of herbs, leaves, dipping sauce and other garnishes are used in dishes, comprising the unique Khmer cuisine that most travelers once have sampled, they won’t turn back.
Rice is the staple food of the Cambodians, who consume it daily with all meals using various cooking techniques like steam, fry, sticky rice, rice noodles, etc.. Cambodia is blessed with large volume of freshwater rivers and streams, which makes fish the most important meat source for them, especially those who live in the Tonle Sap Lake region. Curries are common to see in Khmer cuisine. They are less spicy than that of Thailand but contain the same amount fried vegetables and more garlic. Tropical fruit like mango, coconut milk and banana is served as dessert, the sweeter the better. Just for your information - durian fruit is still the king of fruit in Cambodia as with the rest of Southeast Asia.
As the most well-known Cambodia food, Amok is a staple curry dish made from fish (or can be replaced with chicken), which is cooked in banana leaves with coconut milk and Khmer curry paste. In both local cookshop and upscale restaurants you can find this dish easily.
Nom Banh Chok
It’s the loved Khmer noodles that most westerners miss it so much when they return home. The rice noodles are topped with green fish gravy and green bean, banana flowers and other vegetables. The locals usually have it as breakfast, which costs less than a dollar in Phnom Penh everyday in street stands.
Bai Sach Chrouk
The dish can be seen all over the country, serving as a favored snack made from grilled pork or beef infused with lemongrass and coconut milk or garlic, a portion of rice and a bowl of chicken broth will come along.
Cha Houy Teuk
Here comes the dessert time. Cha Houy Teuk is the best Cambodian dessert popular with young people. It’s a sweet jelly dessert made from sticky rice or sago marinated in coconut milk and topped with heaps of taro, red beans and other edible garnishes.
If you’re visiting a seaside town in Cambodia, don’t miss the specialty, fried crab, which is prepared with green Kampot pepper and garlic chives. Restaurants in Phnom Penh also have live crabs transferred so you can have a feast here as well.
1. Western-style restaurants or cafes can be found in major tourist cities like Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. Some of them also offer Asian cuisine to widen your meal choices.
2. Tipping usually is not expected but is appreciated a lot. The amount of tipping depends on the quality of service you get. $5~10 is among the right amount we suggest.
3. Sometimes drink could cost more than food. Check the price before you order a dozen of beer.
4. Street food is inviting (except the scary part), but you’d better look out whether it’s clean or not. Choose the stand with less flies hovering about. If you intend to try the local food, turn to our tour guide for advice.
5. Staff in most restaurants is capable of speaking English, and our guide will be at your assistance.
6. Aspara show with dinner is a must-do in Siem Reap. We arrange the culture experience at Angkor Village Resort near the world-famed Angkor Wat.
7. Family eating on the wood floor of the house is traditional for Cambodian people. Be prepared to join them once the invitation is sent.