After three months in Vietnam, I was ready for a new food adventure! Little did I know that Southern Vietnamese cuisine and Cambodian cuisine were so similar. D’oh. Well at least the food is good, and there are some differences. I am still in a land of a lot of rice noodles though. I usually hit the ground eating by checking out local blogs but the coverage of this city is lackluster and poorly organized. I also think CNNGo’s inclusion of Phnom Penh in their 10 best street food cities in Asia is a bad choice. If you had to add “fresh cut fruit with spicy salt” and “fresh green coconuts” to your list, you cannot think of 10 great street foods for people to try. Perhaps more telling is that the writer is based here. Local love does not mean including cities that do not stand out.
I don’t take pictures everywhere often because I am too busy enjoying the food to remember. Sometimes I’ve forgotten my camera and the lighting is too awful for my flash-less phone to take. And there are other times I just don’t because I feel bad that there are hordes of foreigners running around with DSLR cameras shoved in everyone’s faces capturing that perfect shot. It does mean I’m missing pictures of two of the better street foods. The first is Bai sach chrouk, grilled pork chops sometimes marinated in coconut and served over broken rice. I had a fair bit of this in Saigon but it’s still tasty and not what I expect breakfast to be. Nom banh chok is new to me, although may have a Thai counterpart. It’s rice noodles covered in a curry like gravy and a mess of banana flowers and other herbs/vegetables. Also unpictured is Kampal market, a smaller local market smack dab in the middle of tourist/backpacker riverside central. Despite the location, it is full of locals and close to street prices.
I walk everywhere in town, much to the chagrin of the endlessly pushy tuk tuk drivers. I counted one day and I say no to about thirty of them a day. It really did sour the mood to have to constantly tell people to go away, and I am not used to it even months after being in the region. There are a lot more cars here, probably due to Vietnam’s 150% tariff on car imports. However I wasn’t ready for what the huge income split meant once they had cars. I’ve seen more Porsches and Land Rovers here than I have since I was back in America.
The downside to all this market exploration is that I have finally been fully sidelined with traveling sickness. This is why you carry antibiotics in your pack! I’ll be out a few days before I’m out eating the streets again.