We have now entered Vietnam, so I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the food we ate in Cambodia and give you some hints and tips.
First of all the food is MORE EXPENSIVE than in Thailand, by quite a bit actually. The main reason being that Cambodia has adopted the US Dollar as a currency. So they seem to round everything up to $1 even if it was ever cheaper. But on the flip side, beer is MUCH CHEAPER than in Thailand, with your average beer costing no more than 75c or 50c during happy hours. So you win some you lose some.
Cambodia has quite a few national dishes but one you’ll find everywhere is “beef lok lak”, which is where they cook beef in soy, oyster and tomato sauce add sugar, garlic, pepper and chilli to create a taste sensation. You can normally pick one up including rice at a restaurant for around $2-3. It’s a must try! Always comes with a crazy sharp dipping sauce, which no one could translate into English for me haha but worth a try.
There is some amazing street food stalls, especially at the night markets, but they can be a real challenge for vegetarians (Georgi) as the workers usually speak minimal or no English. Which isn’t their fault at all, but if you have dietary requirements I would strongly recommend translating some useful phrases and screen shotting them on your phone for easy access.
The staple for all backpackers will be the fried rice dishes. Not only the most filling and cheapest but also one of the tastiest when done right. When trying to save some serious pennies I have fried rice with different meats around 3 times a day. It’s an absolute steal at around $1-$1.25. Georgi finds it a bit dry but there’s always soy sauce and chilli sauce hanging around so just tip it on.
We travelled to Battambang on our way from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. At this point we were around 3 weeks into our travels and hadn’t had any western food yet, so we decided to find the best pizza in town.
Oh we did! We completely recommend “La Pizza”. It is a French owned pizza place on the riverbank and had the best pizza along with some amazing starters (I recommend the fresh olive spread). It was the most expensive place we had eaten but even then it was $2 for starters and $5-10 for pizza’s as well as 75c beers.
There were so many curry options to chose from in Cambodia, the main being: masaman, penang, red, green and yellow. They are a more watery/soup based curry rather than your Indian type, but equally tasty. They always come with a steamed rice and cost anywhere from $2 upwards.
As you slowly creep towards the Vietnamese border you will come across more and more noodle soups. These are becoming my favourite dishes, great flavour combos along with lumps of meat and your choice of noodles .. what can go wrong. Plus you always get a chilli and some limes so you can spice things up yourself. This was a noodle soup I had in Kampot at the Monkey Republic hostel for around $3.
Stir fried dishes are some of the most flavoursome out there, with all your ingredients combined in one pan along with a sticky sauce. Always accompanied by more rice – get used to steamed / sticky rice in Asia, you WILL eat it 2-3 times a day. I had a beautiful stir fried lamb and fresh pepper dish in Sihanoukville, probably my stand out memory from Sihanoukville.
We have been staying in your general budget hostels and to be fair we have done quite well so far. The rooms have been clean, you get what you pay for, and so far nothing has gone missing. We have also done really well with hostel food, when hunting for a bargain the street is where you should head, but if you have a few dollars to spare in Cambodia your hostel will always do some nice local dishes.
One of my favourites was whilst at Mad Monkey in Siem Reap they had a hostel BBQ. For $5 I got this gigantic plate of food along with a free beer, it was incredible and lined my stomach for a great beer pong tournament.
The breakfasts are always amazing in the chain hostels, it’s always good to start your day with something your body knows well. The eggs and bacon with homemade hash browns were fantastic at Monkey Republic and didn’t come back up whilst at Arcadia .. so great success!
If you want up to date foodie pics, and more little hints/tips then check out my insta @sammulhall