I was not thrilled about eating Siem Reap, or the city in general. It is a tourist town with more to be excited about on the international end of food. This is great for homesickness, but for the most part and for my tastebuds and wallet, I still prefer local foods. Luckily I managed to find some local food hidden beneath all the touristy streets.
In Psar Leu, the big local market of Siem Reap I found what I think may be red nom ban chok. This is usually a dish reserved for special events like weddings. It was delicious and involves room temperature fermented rice noodles covered in a lukewarm curry sauce.
Post Phnom Penh illness I’ve eaten in more restaurants. This local number was delicious with saucy fish amok and a warm beef salad. I was looking for a green mango salad at this restaurant recommended by a local blogger but apparently in the week since the post it is no longer on the menu.
Good thing I got my salad other ways. Far from the safer person I was at the start of this trip, now I’m eating papaya salads off of carts. They’re delicious! The surprise pickled crab was more risky but also tasty. While I love crab I think I prefer papaya salad crab free.
After blowing my cooking class enthusiasm in Laos, I’m trying again in Cambodia where it is reasonably priced. I chose to play with banana flowers since I don’t see them in America. Unfortunately it was at a western style restaurant so I found the flavors tame and lacking compared to what I eat in this country. No prahok (fermented fish paste)? Probably not authentic. I do miss my kitchen so it’s nice to cook again and to meet nice people.
Another good place to get more local food are the beer garden like places. They serve delicious bar food, in this case grilled goods. There’s also women in what passes as scantily clad in this region refreshing your beer and ice. This was on a street full of bbq places. I enjoyed the family place I went to earlier in the week for grilled beef and liver on skewers more.
I did get a sudden hankering for American desserts that I attempted to fix in a more international town. I do enjoy the various slippery rice flour noodles and concoctions in sweet coconut milk and custard steamed inside a pumpkin, but it just isn’t chocolate. Alas it still took me a few tries to get right. I do love the “pancakes” they serve on the street which are generally roti that they can fill with banana, chocolate, even nutella in tourist areas. In local areas you see it more with just condensed milk and maybe an egg.
I was craving chocolate chip cookies specifically, a need I still haven’t met. This cakey cookie was more fit for black and white cookies and the tiny chips were unsatisfying. It was sold at an NGO cafe so I wanted to like it but couldn’t.
I went back to the same cafe to try to like it. This cream cheese chocolate cake looked good and even had a good sprinkle ratio but everything about it tasted off. Good thing I didn’t even attempt the cafeteria cake looking brownie.
I finally went to a french style cafe that was delicious. The atmosphere was great, the cake (with unnecessary creme anglaise) delicious and alas the prices matched. This could’ve been a cafe anywhere in the world and felt like it.
The best American style dessert I found was a brownie at The Blue Pumpkin cafe chain. It was rich and chocolatey, everything I was looking for. So when in a touristy town, I might as well embrace what I can get. I do still enjoy my savory local foods more though. Back to the markets!