SPICEGASM.COM My travel tales and food hunting

October 31, 2010

La Lune food stall near St 51

Filed under: Bars & Resto,Cambodia,Food,Travel — Alex @ 2:40 am

I woke up around 10am the next day after hanging out in Heart Of Darkness disco last night. Free breakfast buffet will end in 30 minutes and I decided not to rush and skip breakfast. Will just order room service instead. It was raining quite heavily and the roads were flooded. By noon the rain stopped and the flood slowly subsided.

I told Eddie and Zach that our mission for dinner tonight is to look for the food stall that sells those lovely fried goodies. So far the information given to me by the waiter in HOD is that the stall is located across the road from the club. I know the street number which is St 51 as I took a business card from the club supervisor.

Come dinner time we got ourselves a tuk tuk and head on to street 51. When we stopped in HOD, we noticed there’s a few food stalls and a big food court. Last night while leaving the club, we did not notice all these establishments. I think you can guess why we did not see all the food stalls. So we walked around the food court and some stalls. I did not see any stalls that are selling the pork ribs and chicken wings.

I saw a stall with pictures of burgers and hotdog. As I walked closer to the stall, I remembered the nice aroma and pictures of fried chicken wings and pork ribs. I never would have guess that this burger stall will be offering the fried goodies.

La Lune food stall

Crappy pictures that I took of La Lune food stall. From far  I can see the big ass pictures of a burger and a hotdog. That’s why I never suspected that it was the same stall that produced those aromatic fried goodies.

The dude that runs La Lune food stall is a very friendly guy that goes by the name of Chheang. He gave me a name card and on it, it is stated that the stall has been operational since 2003. It also provides delivery service.

He suggested us to go to a restaurant nearby to get our seat and he will deliver the food to us. He told us as long we order some food from the other restaurant it will be all right. We followed his suggestion and went to a non fancy restaurant nearby ( my kind of restaurant ).

This simple restaurant sells seafood, rice dishes and also noodle dishes. I have no idea how the food will taste like but this is part of the process to discover new eating joints. We ordered some drinks and food from this restaurant while waiting for our fried food from La Lune.

The messy looking restaurant

Boiled cockles ( a type of shell ) with lime and chili dip. I love cockles ever since as a kid. In Singapore, the famous Char Kway Teow is not complete if there’s no cockles in it. Zach find the word cockles really hilarious.

Some Khmer style fried noodles that cost me USD1

Khmer beef noodle at USD1.20

The food served in this simple restaurant was all right. Boiled cockles is boiled cockles, no skills is needed to make this dish. The flavor of the cockles is stronger than fresh raw oysters. Not really a hit with Westerner for sure. As for the beef  noodle soup, it lacked a certain lemony or celery taste to the soup. I think I would prefer the Vietnam version of Pho. However I do enjoy the fried noodle very much. It taste is really good and the portion of Kailan given was very generous. It is fried in a way that is semi wet and the sauce and the egg made the noodle taste really good.

This is the main reason why we came back to St 51 for. The very tasty pork ribs and it cost us USD2. The portion is more but we ate a few before taking some pictures.

One more close up pork ribs picture for you

I have no idea what spices was used to make these fried meat. The chicken wings tasted good ( forgot to snap some pics ) but it is not as juicy as the pork ribs. Pork ribs tend to have more fat and this is the reason why it is juicier than the wings. There is a thin layer of caramelize mixture of sugar and spices that covers the pork ribs. The balance of the spices and frying time of the ribs make it perfect. Is not overly sweet, spicy or salty. I don’t really know how to describe it. You have to taste it for yourself.

We also ordered few 3 bottles of mineral water and 2 can of coke aside from the cockles and noodle dishes from the simple restaurant. From La Lune we ordered 2 portions of fried pork ribs, one portion of chicken wings. Everything comes to a total of USD12. I’m sure there are places where you can get cheaper food in the street of Phnom Penh but I can’t complain for the price that we paid especially when the pork ribs is heavenly good.

Here is the contact number of La Lune food stall :

012 728 638 / 016660 208 – Chheang

October 30, 2010

Heart of Darkness Phnom Penh

Filed under: Cambodia,Travel — Alex @ 10:57 am

Heart of Darkness Disco

After dinner at Yee Bo, we wanted to look for a place to have a couple of Angkor Beer. Zach made a research online and told me that most of the elite crowd of Phnom Penh frequent this disco that goes by the name of Heart Of Darkness. The hip call it HOD but the tuk tuk driver just call it Disco Heart. I’m not really into loud music anymore as I’m inching towards the senior citizen status. Since Zach and Eddie would like to check it out, being a cool traveling companion, I followed the majority vote.

The disco is really small in comparison with the discos or clubs that I’ve been to around the world. From the outside the disco look like a shop house. You go through some bouncers checking for guns and hand grenades. I’m not exaggerating on the hand grenade part as I saw the sign stating no guns and hand grenades allowed. I read some comments online about HOD that some embassies advice the employees against going to this club. Some shoot out incidents happened before but I’m not sure if there’s fatality. The club is famous amongst the sons of high ranking government officials and army generals. They would normally get to go into the club without the customary body search.

I have to admit the article on the net regarding HOD did make me a little bit nervous but I told myself what are the odds of a shoot out that night. Upon entering the club, I see people are dancing away to the latest pop music. We ordered 3 bottles of Angkor Beer. Price of the beer is USD3.50 for a big bottle. That’s really cheap considering this is the hippest club in town. They are many Westerners there too, male and female. Is a very popular among the expat community and also NGO workers.

My nervousness died down after seeing people looking very relax and of course finishing one big bottle of Angkor Beer in few minutes helped too. The music wasn’t too loud and I enjoyed observing the crowd. While drinking my beer, a very nice aroma of fried food caught my attention. I looked around and saw a waiter carrying some fried food to some customers. I signaled the waiter to come over and asked him what he was serving to the guests. He told me it was fried chicken wings and pork ribs. He asked me if I would like to order and he will go outside and buy it for us. Since we were full after a heavy dinner, I politely decline and asked him where did he buy it. He told me the stall is just opposite the disco. I mentally told myself that I will come back again tomorrow just to taste those fried goodies.

We continue to drink more beer and after several big bottles of Angkor Beer, I got the courage to ask the supervisor if I could snap a picture of the club for my blog. He obliged and took me to the upper portion of the club and I started taking some pictures. I thanked him and ordered a few more beers just to show him my gratitude. After 8 bottles amongst the 3 of us, we felt buzzed and I know we will have a good sleep that night. We went back to our hotel and I will surely return again the next day to try out the fried goodies. I wonder if the phrase “the food is worth dying for” could be apply here.

October 29, 2010

Chinese restaurant in Phnom Penh

Filed under: Bars & Resto,Cambodia,Food,Travel — Alex @ 4:14 am

There are many Chinese restaurants in Phnom Penh and my friend Eddie always frequent this Chinese restaurant call Yee Boo. It is just a walking distance away from our hotel ( Hotel Cara ). Eddie can’t stop promoting to us how good the Claypot Mutton dish to us. So Chinese cuisine it is for dinner.

The spacious and luxurious balcony

The Chinese Restaurant named Yee Bo is operating in a very big old colonial bungalow. When I set foot into the restaurant, I had this imagination that this mansion used to belong to the French who used to occupy Cambodia for quite sometime. After the French left, probably one of the Khmer Rouge biggies lived in this mansion. After changing ownerships several decades, it is now finally occupy by the boss of this Chinese restaurant name Yee Bo. All these of course are just my imaginations which by the way I tend to do always.

The boss of Yee Bo seems to recognize Eddie and they exchanged pleasantries. The boss also said said hello to Zach and asked where he is from. Asian restaurant owners tend to get excited when they see Westerners patronizing their restaurants. I wonder if the Western restaurant owners will react the same when they see Asian folks dining in their joint.

Eddie told the waitress that he wanted to sit upstairs in a huge balcony. I loved the idea instantly as I loved eating outdoors or semi outdoors. I don’t really fancy eating in air condition places. Outdoor dining also allows me to smoke while having my food and normally a few glasses of beer.

Chicken feet with peanuts soup

The supervisor of  Yee Bo is a lady who speaks fluent Cantonese, which is a Chinese dialect Eddie and I are accustom with. So ordering our food was easy. We ordered the Claypot Mutton, mixed platter of Pork Ribs ( Siew Yoke ) with Chinese BBQ POrk ( Char Siew ) and Kangkung Belacan.

Most Chinese restaurant offers soup of the day for free. The cost to make the soups are normally pretty low. This doesn’t mean the soups will be inferior in taste. A good Chinese soup normally uses pig bones and chicken bones and boil with some other herbs.

We were given the free soup of the day which is the Chicken Feet with Peanut. When the soup arrived on our table, I scooped the soup to see what’s beneath it. Zach saw what I was doing and he suddenly said “Whaohh….is that a baby hand in there?”. Eddie started laughing hysterically looking at Zach’s reaction.

Roast Pork Platter

The roasted pork platter was just all right for me. Nothing really spectacular like those that I’ve eaten in Hong Kong. I ordered it specially for our Western friend as he prefers to eat meat without any bones attached to the meat. The skin area I normally prefers it to be thicker and crunchy.

Claypot Mutton Ribs

Eddie was spot on with his recommendation. I really loved this mutton dish. It is stew slowly in a claypot with shitake mushrooms, radish and Chinese beancurd. Star anise is being used to give this dish a nice taste and fragrant. The meat is so soft and tender and as you bite the meat, it just fall off from the bones easily. I dipped it in my soya sauce mixed with chopped garlic and chili and the taste is simply heavenly. Absolutely divine!

The kangkung belacan dish ( stir fry morning glory in shrimp paste ) was good too. Upon tasting it I can tell the chef is from Malaysia. I further confirmed it by asking the supervisor and I was proven right. We were given some watermelon for dessert after our meal. Total price for our dinner was USD21. I think is really cheap considering the service was excellence. There’s a waitress filling up our tea whenever our cups are empty. She was there the whole time!!!! If any of you happen to be in Phnom Penh and would like to try out the Claypot Mutton Ribs dish, here is the phone number of Yee Bo Restaurant – Tel : 023-430 598 / 015 – 231 888. I can’t provide the address of the restaurant as it is in Chinese and I don’t read Chinese.

October 28, 2010

Joy ride around Phnom Penh city

Filed under: Cambodia,Thailand — Alex @ 1:00 am

After having Cambodia cuisine for lunch and felt slightly smarter than the people that never tasted it, I try to memorized the name of the dishes that we ate for lunch. This is very important as it can be used in the near future if you happened to bump into a Cambodian. I can just bust out the words Amok, Kampot Pepper, Khmer Beef Loc Lac to the Cambodian and hoping to be praised by him/her or shim ( you’ll never know ). If that happens, I can have a smart ass grin on my face. Lol.

After lunch we decided to just have a joy ride in a tuk tuk around the city. I find this activity fun as I can see more about the Cambodian lifestyle. We just asked the tuk tuk driver to just go around the city without any specific destination. I’m not sure he ever got request like this before judging at his face expression when I told him just to drive around to no where. During the ride, I snapped some pictures of Phnom Penh.

Riverfront area where a lot of restaurants along the road

Restaurants and guest house along the Riverfront area

Happy Herb Pizza, pizza with marijuana is what I heard. I’ll stick to Angkor Beef for my happiness as I’m not a herbal person.

Cambodia Royal Palace

The entrance to the Royal Palace. If I’m not mistaken, the entrance fee is USD 3 per person for the royal tour.

Royal Palace wall with Cambodian artistry. Not sure if it was done by this shirtless old man or he was just a passerby.

Tuk-tuk driver filling up more gas for more joyride

Streets of Phnom Penh

Shop houses in Phnom  Penh

Cinema in Phnom Penh

Dental clinic in Phnom Penh

Guest house in Phnom Penh

After riding the tuk-tuk with no specific destination, Eddie suggested we go to the famous Central Market of Phnom Penh. I normally stay away from all these touristy area but today I’m going to make it as an exception. So we told the tuk-tuk driver to bring us to the Central Market.

Did you noticed most of the pictures in this post, the roads are empty and shops are all closed? It is a public holiday in Cambodia and Central Market was closed too on that day. I guess it is not meant to be for me to visit all these touristy places on my travels. If you see the yellow color roof in the picture just above this post, that’s Central Market. Well, I can still tell people I’ve been to Central Market in Phnom Penh.

We decided to walk and stumbled upon a smaller version of street wet market. Vendors are selling all sorts of vegetables, fishes, meats, live stocks and food. I wanted to take many pictures but still feel a little shy to just snap the pictures of the vendors. So the results is just a few pictures of street vendors selling food.

Local street wet market

Street food selling fried fish. I am gung-ho about eating in places like this but the language barrier deterred me from doing so. Is places like this where we will find authentic local cuisine. I’m used to these kind of street food scenes.

I wish I have a local friend who is a foodie who can guide us on what to order. I felt a little bit disappointed for not being adventurous enough.

After the wet market, we went back to the hotel to rest and search online for more information on Phnom Penh. Can’t wait to check out some other places for a nice dinner.

Finally some Cambodian cuisine

Filed under: Cambodia,Food,Travel — Alex @ 12:00 am

It’s our third day here in Phnom Penh and we are digging it pretty much. The food scene is not disappointing at all especially when it comes to International cuisines. There’s no shortage of choices on food in the Riverfront area. Prices are very reasonable as well.

My friend Eddie from Malaysia who invited me to Phnom Penh will be arriving today. He is quite familiar with Phnom Penh after few years of traveling back and forth because of his business commitments. We are quite excited about the prospect of having a personal tour guide to show us around.

Upon his arrival, he brought us to the Riverfront area and will introduce us to the most famous Cambodian cuisine call Amok. Every country has a national dish and for Cambodia, Amok is the most famous one.

We ordered Fish Amok and when it arrived, I had a feeling that it will taste good by just looking at it. The presentation of the food look good and the color of the sauce is very appealing. The name Amok most likely represents the method of cooking certain meats and vegetables. I came up with this conclusion after browsing through the menu and noticed that the restaurant also has chicken, beef and vegetables cook in Amok style.

We decided to order Fish Amok as it is the most popular choice among other meats. It is cook in certain curry spices and what made it different from other curry dishes from other countries, it uses egg white to thicken the sauce. I’m not sure our Amok has coconut milk in it, and even if it has coconut milk like Thai curries, the flavor of coconut milk wasn’t that strong.

It uses fish fillet ( much to the delight of our Caucasian friend ) and I’m guessing it is fresh water fish. It is wrapped with banana leaf, most likely to give an extra fragrant to the dish. In my opinion, the taste is really good and it is really appetizing when it is served with hot fluffy rice. It kinda tasted like a certain Nyonya dish that is famous in Malaysia.

We ordered another salad dish known as Khmer Char Kdout Salad. It is a slightly stir fry chicken fillet marinated with spices like lemon grass and among others. It also has chili, cucumber, green pepper, onion, beans and lettuce. It doesn’t have the sweet and sour taste along with spiciness like Thai papaya salad. The salad does taste good but it doesn’t provide me with the “WOW” effect. This does not mean it doesn’t taste good. I will eat this anytime of the day if given the choice between fast food ( ehem…McDo ) and this chicken salad dish.

Since there are 3 of us, we ordered another beef dish. It is known as the Khmer Beef Loc Lak. It is a stir fry dish with beef fillet with special Kampot pepper sauce. I think Kampot must be an area in Cambodia famous for it’s production of pepper. I think the all of us agreed that this is our favorite dish among the 3. Most likely it is because we are meat eaters but this doesn’t mean Amok is not fit to be the famous national dish of Cambodia. What made this Beef Loc Lak even more appetizing is the dipping sauce. I’ve seen many sauces around Asia but this is the first time I’ve seen sauce being prepared this way. It is simple yet tasty. It is just a combination of pepper and salt soaked with lime juice.

I think this dipping sauce can go well with any stir fry meat dish. Or even BBQ or grilled seafoods and meats. Since the 3 of us loves spicy food, we added crushed bird’s eye chili to give it and extra taste of “OOMMPHHH”.

In my personal opinion, most of us are more familiar with Thai food. Since Cambodia is a neighboring country and the culture is pretty similar in our eyes ( clueless foreigners ), we tend to expect the taste of Cambodian cuisine just like Thai cuisine.  I’ve heard comments from tourist that Cambodian cuisine is the bad version of Thai food. I think this is wrong as it is totally a different cuisine of it’s own class.

I actually wanted to ask the chef or even the waitresses more about Cambodian cuisine. I decided to drop the idea as I’m not a very confident person in real life. Maybe the chef might be busy, not as friendly as we expect him to be and thousand of other reasons I could think of just to deter me from getting more information. Worst scenario is being laughed at and labeled as an Anthony Bourdain wannabe, hahahahaha. I need to grow a pair of b@@ls and get the courage to do all this. Maybe I will be more confident if my blog grows bigger in the near future.

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