The Best Seafood Dishes of Cambodia

For dinner one night, we ate at Kimly Restaurant, a traditional Khmer seafood place near the crab market of Kep. We ordered:

  • prawns with deep-fried garlic
  • coconut milk crab with lemongrass, garlic, and onion
  • vegetable fried rice (no picture)
  • fish amok (no picture)
  • pineapple for dessert
  • caramel ice cream and chocolate ice cream with chocolate cream and Oreo for dessert

 

The next morning, we had a lovely breakfast at The Secret, a restaurant opened by Veranda Resort. It was a 12-minute walk from Le Flamboyant, our resort.

 

  • Dad had the seafood pizza, which had oysters, shrimp, and squid on tomato sauce with mozzarella cheese
  • I ordered the Khmer omelet, which was surprising because it was a fried egg dish with scallions, and raw vegetables on the side, and lots of white rice
  • Grandpa had coconut water and garlic bread with spaghetti bolognese
  • My dessert was a coconut tart with vanilla ice cream

 

Our resort is so lovely. There are a lot of unique tropical plants and flowers that I’ve never seen in Canada. Their colours are so vibrant and pretty.

 

In the afternoon, Dad and I visited the Kampong Trach caves. We were a little disappointed because the caves had dried up. It isn’t rainy season, so the caves, which are typically filled with crystal-esque blue water, was completely dry, with caked mud on the ground. There also should’ve been a waterfall, which we didn’t see either. We also didn’t get to see bats! I love bats, so this was definitely a disappointment.

 

We took a tuktuk to get to the caves, and our kind tuktuk driver allowed us to loop around the way back, giving us the opportunity to see Kep beach, which was full of locals, and the famous Kep Crab Statue. It was pretty cool, though I can definitely see why it’d be underwhelming if you’d come a long way just to see the statue.

 

Here is a skeleton of our time in Kep:

FRIDAY

  • 3:30 Kep National Park
  • 5:30 Sailing Club Restaurant dinner (no reservation)

SATURDAY

  • 11:00 La Baraka
  • 1:00-6:00 Bokor National Park
  • 7:00 Kimly

SUNDAY

  • 11:00 The Secret by Veranda Natural Resort
  • 2:30-5:00 Kampong Trach Caves
  • Kep Crab Statue (20 mins from hotel)
  • Kep Beach (20 mins from hotel)
  • 7:00 Holy Crab

MONDAY

  • 7:45 pickup for airport
  • 7:45-10:45 drive to Phnom Penh airport
  • brunch at the airport
  • 12:45 flight from Phnom Penh to Taipei

Since that was pretty much our whole experience in Cambodia, let’s commemorate with a list of all the tasty traditional things I had the opportunity to eat:

  • coconut milk dessert in the food stands
  • dragonfruit
  • jackfruit
  • prohok ktis (traditional fermented river fish, pork, coconut milk)
  • Cambodian Khmer red curry with baguette bread
  • fish amok (curry in a banana leaf)
  • omelettes
  • tropical sour fruits
  • Cambodian sandwich
  • grilled and fried bananas
  • Num sang khya l’peou (pumpkin custard with coconut milk on top)

And, sadly, a list of things that I didn’t get to try (next time, right?!):

  • bai sach chrouk (grilled sweet pork, broken rice, broth with onions on the side)
  • lok lak (stir-fried beef in brown sauce of oyster/soy/palm sugar)
  • ang dtray meuk: grilled squid
  • kuy teav (pork broth rice noodle soup with garlic, scallions, shrimp, lettuce, etc.),
  • kdam chaa
  • lort cha (stir-fry noodles with greens, bean sprouts, egg)
  • bobor congee
  • samlor korko (pumpkin soup, pork ribs)
  • Ah Ping
  • beef saraman curry
  • kaw (braised chicken or pork, topped with egg, sweet sauce)
  • tai krolap tea
  • lemon tea (tai kdao kroich chhmaa) with sugar
  • mango salad
  • Cha houy teuk (sweet jelly)
  • num banh chok (breakfast, thin noodles with green fish gravy)
  • bread with cream cheese
  • fried crickets

Here we have vegetable fried rice, crab amok (simply the best), onion rings, fish tempura, and clear fish soup. I loved my crab amok so much, and it was quite a generous serving, so I asked for even more steamed jasmine rice after finishing my serving so I could enjoy every drop of the curried, coconutty amok.

 

The next day, we had to take a plane from Phnom Penh back to Taipei. That morning, we left Kep at 7:45 to go to Phnom Penh – it was a three-hour drive to the capital of Cambodia before our flight at 12:45. Since we were early, we had time to eat a delicious breakfast. Here’s what we ate:

  • Dad had the English breakfast with baguette, tomatoes, potatoes, two fried eggs, and sausage, with an iced coffee
  • I liked my salmon eggs benedict with avocado and asparagus, which came with fried potatoes and grilled tomatoes as well (also some Earl Grey tea with milk and sugar)
  • Grandpa had the one-egg breakfast with toast, mushrooms, potatoes, and tomatoes

 

Before we knew it, we were in Taiwan! That night in Taipei, we ate at the local food court which was only a five-minute walk from our hotel. Also, look at that cutest dog ever, which was actually a stray doggie that we saw on the streets of Kep, Cambodia. I’m not a huge animal person but I have to say that this was one of the top three cutest pups I’ve ever seen in my life.

  • Dad had the dried tossed noodles with pork
  • Dad and I shared an oyster omelet, one of Taiwan’s special foods
  • I had the eggplant and braised pork dish, which came with rice, cabbage, and seaweed soup

 

That’s pretty much it! I’m now writing this in the plane on our way from Taipei to Macau. We will be spending five days in Macau, and I’m excited to see the shows, eat good food, walk around, and maybe do some spa treatments or something.

Have a good rest of the week!

Exploring Angkor’s Grand Circuit

On Wednesday night, Dad, Grandpa, and I dined at The Sugar Palm, where we savoured the following Cambodian specialties:

  • fried prawn fritters with tamarind dip
  • prohok ktis (traditional fermented river fish with pork and spices), served with raw vegetables for dipping
  • coconut curried fish soup with green beans
  • Khmer red chicken curry with sweet potatoes, eggplants, onions, and Kampot peppercorns
  • fish amok soufflé

My dessert was equally delicious: fried banana fritters with vanilla ice cream. It was the perfect hot and cold, crispy and creamy way to end the meal.

On Thursday morning, Dad and I explored the hotel and our Siem Reap neighbourhood. After looking at the koi in our hotel, we headed to the old market, where we found vendors selling dried fish, household appliances, pencilboxes, clothing, perfumes, peppercorns, silk scarves, essential oils, and soap. We were tempted to purchase some jasmine-scented soap and pencil cases, to bring back to Canada as gifts.

The rest of the morning involved plenty of lounging around and relaxing. It was nice to do so, after waking up naturally to sunlight – especially since we’d woken at 4:00 AM the morning before to explore Angkor Wat during sunrise. All three of us loved the modern decorations and exquisite accents in Riversoul Residence.

We enjoyed breakfast at the hotel.

  • English Breakfast for Dad involved two slices of toast, scrambled eggs and bacon, mushrooms, English sausage, cheesy potato hash browns, butter and jam. He also had some iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk.
  • My Jackfruit Pockets had a vegan fusion flatbread with shredded jackfruit, passionfruit dressing, and a pumpkin hash. On the side, I ordered a raisin pancake topped with cream cheese (for some reason, came with maple syrup instead). I loved the Earl Grey tea that I had on the side with milk and sugar.
  • Grandpa liked his Kui Teiv, a southeast Asian noodle soup with bok choy, fish, and Asian condiments.

After brunch, I was eager to hop onto a tuktuk and head back to Angkor Archaeological Park to do another day of exploring. This time, we completed the Grand Circuit, passing Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom to visit some smaller, but equally mesmerizing, temples and monuments. The Grand Circuit is an extension of the shorter Small Circuit loop, taking in a few more key sites.

According to Travelfish: The main temples of the Grand Circuit are: Preah KhanNeak PeanTa SomEast Mebon and Pre Rup. This handful should help form the focus of your Grand Circuit tour, being the most interesting historically and visually with a variety of architecture. They also tend to be the only ones the tour companies take in or that tuk tuk drivers would think to stop at on the circuit.

The twisting, tendril-like tree trunks in one temple reminded me of the famous tree of Ta Prohm, though this one had much fewer tourists and just as many photo opps.

We thought this backdrop looked just like a painting. It was exhilarating, and I was struck by the stillness of the lake and picturesque vibrant colours of the surrounding jungle.

One temple, called Neak Pean (“entwined serpents” in Khmer) involved a walk on a long bridge before reaching a monument surrounded by a pond. Researchers believe this temple symbolizes a mythical Himalayan lake with magical, medicinal waters.

Neak Pean was originally designed for medical purposes (the ancients believed that going into these pools would balance the elements in the bather, thus curing disease); it is one of the many hospitals that Jayavarman VII built. It is based on the ancient Hindu belief of balance. Four connected pools represent Water, Earth, Fire and Wind.

Pre Rup was one of the most memorable temples for me. The views were breathtaking, and I wish photos could do it justice. Pre Rup, built with brick and other materials to give it a reddish hue, is a Hindu temple made in 961-962. The name Pre Rup means “turn the body”, which is significant because funerals were held at this temple, and ashes were rotated in different directions throughout the funeral.

The view from the top of Pre Rup was phenomenal, and I loved exploring each nook and cranny of the pagodas. Many, many questions arose, such as:

  • where did all the stones come from?
  • how were the stones carved without modern technology?
  • why does each carving look nearly identical?
  • what caused some structures to topple over, while others remain perfectly intact?
  • how many workers contributed to building these structures?
  • what was the purpose of countless door frames?
  • why did some of the small bricks have round indentations?
  • how were the stones carried up the stairs without cranes or other modern construction pieces?

It was truly an awe-inspiring experience to stand atop the temple and reflect on the fact that many centuries ago, Khmer kings and their guards, members of the royal family, and ancient monks spent their lives in these buildings. This peek into the ancient world was exhilarating and made me realize that I would love to visit more and more historical world heritage sites in the future.

Now we are in Kep, after a 6-hour night bus from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, a 2-hour layover (buffet breakfast was involved!), and a 3-hour bus from Phnom Penh to Kampot, then a 30-minute tuktuk ride to Kep.

Glad to finally be in Kep and explore southern Cambodia’s small, peaceful, scenic village.

Tapas, Buffet, and a Seven-Course Meal

Good evening from Siem Reap on this warm Tuesday, January 9.

Recently:

  • Seline often sends me screenshots of conversations that she has with Mom. I thought this one was particularly sweet, and it made me reminisce the wonderful time we spent at Sunshine Coast during both 2015 and 2016
  • Spiders at ROMDENG, a restaurant in Phnom Penh – I chickened out 😥
  • Dad and Grandpa on a tuktuk this morning; it was in the high 30s temperature-wise

The Wat Langka temple was timelessly beautiful and impactful. We also had the opportunity to see the Independence Monument (second photo), and buy new sneakers for Grandpa from the local Adidas store, since his old ones broke on the train ride from Taipei to Taoyuan (the city in Taiwan where the airport is located).

For brunch after the temple exploration, we enjoyed another meal at Daughters of Cambodia. They are truly so lovely for their great cause (everything goes towards helping girls forced into the sex trafficking trade in Cambodia, to learn skills like cooking, massage, sewing, and more).

  • Dad had the baguette BLT, which had bacon, cucumber, spinach, and tomato with an onion chutney
  • Grandpa enjoyed corn chowder and a fish burger with fries
  • I loved my creamy parsley pumpkin soup and cheesy garlic baguette

We purchased a few things from Daughters of Cambodia; namely, some little coloured pouches with powerful words in the Khmer language such as ‘dream’, ‘pray’, and ‘believe’. Grandpa will give these to his family doctor, teacher, and dentist.

We spent the afternoon lounging around the hotel pool. Grandpa was happy with his fresh coconut water. It’s astonishing how much larger these coconuts are, compared to the ones he’s enjoyed in Macau, and even back home in Vancouver.

For dinner, we went to a restaurant called Friends, which is part of a greater company called TREE. TREE is a series of training restaurants that invest profits in students who train there. Money goes towards social programs that help them become skilled, productive, healthy and happy young workers with secure future careers. They not only provide high-quality service and food, but also help young people in developing countries (most are orphans, former street children, or other marginalized, at-risk groups) develop skills that they need to be employable in the hospitality industry. The training that runs here helps build confidence and skills, so students graduate with better futures. 10/10 for sustainability and impact, in my book.

For the tapas, Friends recommends ordering one or two per person. Since the three of us went, we decided to order five. These were some of my favourites (okay, I ended up listing them all):

  • Crispy zucchini and cheddar fritters with Thai Sriracha mayonnaise
  • Fish cakes with garlic, leeks, roasted red pepper puree (these were unbelievably good)
  • Burmese chicken curry with crispy noodles, smoked chili, pickled mustard greens (super spicy, but incredible flavour)

  • Crusty bread with EVOO and dukkah spice

  • Ricotta gnocchi with spinach and corn (I truly loved these, and my dad, who typically doesn’t like gnocchi, enjoyed them!)

For dessert:

  • white chocolate ice cream for Dad and Grandpa (I had a taste, and it had a superb white chocolate aftertaste, unlike some white chocolate ice creams which are simply excessively sweet)
  • black sticky rice pudding with coconut ice cream, caramelized pineapple, and roasted peanuts

The next day – this morning – was a little hectic because we had to clean out the hotel room and check out before a long bus ride to Siem Reap. I was a little sad to say goodbye to our lovely hotel room.

Breakfast buffet in our hotel.

I enjoyed:

  • a cheese omelet
  • two Cambodian sandwiches with ham, cucumber, and spicy mayo (I didn’t think I would like this, but I wholeheartedly enjoyed it. The bold flavours stood up to the fresh baguette, and everything seemed to work well)
  • baked beans
  • chive potatoes
  • fresh passionfruit and dragonfruit
  • banana bread
  • blueberry muffin (crumbled over the plain yogurt)
  • dragonfruit custard danish (surprisingly delicious for a not-crispy Viennoiserie! I wanted another.)
  • plain yogurt
  • mango yogurt with vanilla cream swirl
  • toasted wholemeal bread with butter and pineapple-papaya marmalade (it’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed toast, plain and simple, with butter and jam – this was absolutely delightful)
  • raisin custard danish
  • apple cinnamon muffin (crumbled over the mango yogurt)

Both my stomach and my heart were incredibly full as we boarded the Giant Ibis bus at around 9:45 AM for our 6.5 hour trip to Siem Reap.

The views were unlike anything I’d seen before. One thing that stood out to me was the houses that were built on stilts. Most houses between Phnom Penh (capital of Cambodia) and Siem Reap (North Cambodia) were on stilts, with hammocks and shelves and tables underneath for shade.

The bus stopped three times, with two of the three stops being rest stops for bathroom breaks, and one for a 30-minute lunch break.

Lunch at the Banyan Tree restaurant had a number of options, which was a pleasant surprise since I’d assumed very few options for a food place in the middle of sand and palm trees.

When we arrived at around 3:30, we boarded a tuktuk with all three of our suitcases and two backpacks to go to our hotel, the Riversoul Residence. Riversoul is about fifteen minutes from Angkor Wat, which is why we chose it. It is modern and beautiful in a unique, complementary-colours kind of way, but I do miss the traditional nature and French influence of our first hotel, Raffles in Phnom Penh.

I was amazed by the lack of people in the hotel; it was very empty when we checked in, and my dad attributed this to the fact that the Riversoul Residence is fairly new.

Check out that swimming pool and those lawn chairs which are styled to look like boats!

We took a 10-minute walk to the old market of Siem Reap, which was close to our dinner restaurant, EMBASSY.

EMBASSY has a set menu for each month of the year. They serve French food with a Cambodian twist, using fresh, seasonal, local ingredients from Siem Reap and the surrounding area. All of the stems, leaves, flowers, and garnishes were completely edible. We really did devour every drop.

The three of us ate this seven-course meal:

  1. AMUSE BOUCHE – steamed Chreau village tomato with minced shrimp stuffing
  2. APPETIZER – Kampot scallop with ground toasted rice, kaffir lime leaf, galangal, lemongrass, passionfruit sauce
  3. SOUP – traditional Kdat Soup with turmeric paste, green bass leaf, black chicken (by far my favourite dish of the day, since it was rich, hearty, with a beautiful blend of textures and unique, yet familiarly comforting ingredients)
  4. SORBET – soursop fruit sorbet with fermented black sticky rice and alcohol drizzle
  5. MAIN COURSE 1 – grilled Tonle Sap fish with soybean pickle, ginger, green onion
  6. MAIN COURSE 2 – pork shank from Takeo province, slow-cooked in sugar palm caramel, mushroom sauce, mashed potatoes with coconut milk (also delicious – the meat was very tender and mildly sweet, with great unami flavour from the mushroom gravy)
  7. DESSERT – cashew mousse with red dragonfruit ice cream (the cashew mousse part was spectacular. You can truly taste the cashew, and I appreciated the crispy, chewy, and sweet brown sugar crumble that complemented the nutty mousse)

It was delicious, and now I am dead from deliciousness and excitement for tomorrow, because we’re going to see Angkor Archeological Park!

I Thought I Saw a Spider, But…

This afternoon, we visited Wat Phnom, a Buddhist temple. It was built in 1372, and stands nearly 30m tall. It is the tallest religious structure in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. In fact, Wat Phnom is the central point of Phnom Penh. We are lucky that Wat Phnom was so close to our hotel; it was a roughly 10-minute walk in.

I learned that the sanctuary itself was rebuilt several times in the 19th century and again in 1926. The interior has an altar complex with a large bronze seated Buddha surrounded by other statues, flowers, candles and items of devotion and worship.

There were plenty of great photo opportunities.

We didn’t walk into the temple since no photos were allowed, and it was very busy/crowded and smoky with the burning of incense.

I don’t typically wear sunglasses, but the sun is ridiculously bright here and I’d hate to have squinty eyes in all my photos. Dad’s becoming a really good photographer and I really appreciate having him here for all these candid shots. 😎

Grandpa and I lounged around the pool again in the afternoon. When we come back tomorrow, he would like to drink fresh coconut water from a coconut, which we can order from the bar.

In the evening, we took a tuktuk to Khmer Surin, an authentic Cambodian restaurant.

Here, we enjoyed:

  • fish amok (Goby fish in banana leaf)
  • pineapple fried rice in a pineapple – this was my favourite part
  • deep-fried seafood and vegetables with sweet chili sauce
  • spicy chicken green curry
  • sour lime coconut soup with mushrooms and shrimp
  • chewy tapioca balls in coconut cream
  • mango ice cream
  • coconut ice cream in hot chocolate sauce

When we got home, I washed my hands in the bathroom and noticed something on the ground that, upon first glance, I’d assumed was a spider. It wasn’t – it was actually a teeny, tiny baby gecko!

What a peculiar and cute way to end the day. I really think those little geckos are too cute.

Plans for Tomorrow

  • Russian Market
  • Wat Langka
  • Independence Monument
  • Statue of King Father Norodum Sihanouk
  • Cambodia-Vietnam Friendship Monument
  • Wat Ounalom
  • Poolside Grandpa gets coconut drink

Lunch and Dinner Restaurants for Tomorrow

  • Romdeng
  • Friends

Have a beautiful, lovely afternoon, everyone 🙂