Sunday, 15 June 2008

Cambodia part 2

Famished from our journey and early wake up call, we headed into town for some food. Dropped off at Khmer Kitchen - recommended by our driver - the restaurant is located right next to the old market and bang in the middle of the popular, touristy pub street area. The restaurant itself is unpretentious with it's wicker chairs and patterned cotton tablecloths. However, it was 11 in the morning and it was deserted - the lights were off and the staff were sitting at the tables chatting amongst themselves. It did become livelier after we went in - a pre-booked party of about 25, mostly middle aged bikers from the UK, (that's the normal paddle bicycle, not the motor powered kind ;) walked in. A mini bikers trip methinks.

We started our meal with steamed vegetarian Khmer dumplings and some fried spring rolls (haha no, I don't think they are particularly Cambodian but we just couldn't resist!). The skin for the dumplings, made from rice flour, were on the thick side and the inside was stuffed with fried garlic chives (gau choy in Cantonese, which has flat leaves). The flavour was good but it was a little too doughy for my liking. The spring rolls were the standard sort you find anywhere and nothing to write home about.

The mains on the menu were meant to be shared and they cook most dishes to your choice of meat, seafood or vegetables. I suppose this makes it all very flexible but not very traditional. We had Khmer curry with pork - a thin coconut based stew, heavily flavoured with cinnamon, with thin slices of pork, chunks of potato, carrots and sweet potato. It was rather good and we could smell this cooking as we walked into the restaurant earlier. Behind it the Khmer curry in the picture was the fish stew with coconut milk, which (judging from my memory of it) wasn't particularly memorable.

Stir fried minced pork with beansprouts - tasty but again not great. I'm sure this dish was called something else on the menu but being the usual scatterbrain (despite my best intentions! ;), i didn't write any of the names down (I still don't).

A firm favourite - the long bean salad with mince pork. Not your typical salad, mind you. It was served warm to hot -fresh out of the pan :) Flavours were good with the usual suspects of fish sauce, garlic and lime juice mingling with good ol' porky juices :) and the vegetables (long beans and thin strips of carrot) crunchy.

On the way out of the restaurant, we saw this woman selling roasted sweet potatoes from her little push cart. I believe she also sold roasted bananas.

There was also this un-manned stall with dried and drying cockles. In typical tourist fashion there was a chorus of 'arghhhhhhh!!!' from us. Though there wasn't anyone at this stall while we were there, I did see quite a few other dried cockle stalls during our stay and quite a few shells on the ground. A local favourite, then. There was also a bottle of sauce at the stall, which I assume goes with the cockles but in that boiling mid-day sun ... I do wonder how safe the stuff is. Yes, yes, TOURIST!

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