Eat and meet
Bars and entertainment
A taste of history#3 Sothearos Boulevard, Phnom Penh
T: (023) 724 014
One of the joys of visiting Cambodia is the surprising array of architecural styles. Once you’ve explored the well-maintained delights of Phnom Penh’s Royal Palace and National Museum, we recommend popping over to The Mansion to experience the bohemian ambiance of a more au naturel building ... read more
Get sky high23F, Rooftop, Phnom Penh Tower, 232/93 Monivong Boulevard, Phnom Penh
T: (023) 964 171
Despite burgeoning construction, Phnom Penh is still a relatively low-rise city. Which means that if you can find your way to the top of one of the new towers that have sprung up, you’ll get a far-reaching view. The Eclipse Sky Bar has one of the best accessible vistas, 23 floors up at the top of ... read more
Every other Monday Phnom Penh’s expat population gather together to share their obsessive hobbies, interesting career choices and celebrate all things nerdy. The events are held at venues around the city and each have six or seven speakers who cover topics ranging from yoga to Khmer handicrafts ... read more
“Ladies’ nights” — those antiquated gender-discriminatory events — are still popular around Phnom Penh. These mid-week promotions usually offer some sort of free or discounted drinks to women in the hopes that it will draw more of them, and the men that love them, into the establishment. ... read more
If you missed all of the excitement of Cambodia Pride Week, never fear, there are bars and clubs catering to the LGBT crowd in Phnom Penh every night of the week.“The Phnom Penh gay scene is just coming into bloom,” Marcus Mucous, the organiser of Cambodia Pride and mastermind behind the gay ... read more
Most visitors to Phnom Penh who are the club-going type end up visiting one the few Western-oriented clubs in town. But there are even more clubs in town catering to Khmers, and each offers a unique clubbing experience — from daytime discos to live bands and slow dancing — that gives an ... read more
Phnom Penh is probably home to more Western-orientated bars than foreigners, but most of them seem to believe that all Westerners want to hear is Top 40 from three years ago. You can’t walk down one of the busy bar streets without hearing the strains of Lady Gaga or Rhianna, but where should you ... read more
When you’re ready for a big night out in Phnom Penh, where should you go?Phnom Penh has no end of nightlife and clubbing opportunities, so if you’re heading this way, be sure to pack a pair of dancing shoes. The area around Street 51 (Rue Pasteur) is the most happening spot in town, with many ... read more
If you’re looking to get to a taste of the Emerald Isle, Phnom Penh has a few Irish pubs in town to sate you. Other major Asian cities such as Bangkok may be teaming with Irish drinking establishments, but Phnom Penh only has a handful of Irish pubs. None of them serve Guinness draught, although ... read more
If you’re at a loose end of an evening during your visit to Phnom Penh, you may want to consider taking in some live music. Many venues in town feature live bands that are locally-based or visiting from abroad, such as El Dealbreakers, Durian, Cambodian Space Project, Dub Addiction and Holliday ... read more
Plenty of options
One of the loveliest times in Phnom Penh is sunset, when the locals start their aerobics routines and the expats allow themselves the first cocktail of the day. Some of the best spots for sundowners are those that overlook the river. Here are a few of my favourites. ... read more
Rumour has it there are one or two big events coming up in the world of sport — if riverside badminton and Khmer boxing aren’t enough for you, here’s a roundup of where you can catch all the kicking, running, jumping and throwing action on screen in Phnom Penh. ... read more
Phnom Penh has a bit of a reputation as a good drinking destination. If you do your research thoroughly, it’s possible to combine happy hours into a very happy day at various establishments — although there’s no guarantee you’ll remember it afterwards. But sometimes, we want something to do ... read more
Visitors here sometimes expect a risque night life scene similar to that found in cities in Thailand, but Phnom Penh is emphatically not Bangkok. There are sensitivities and taboos that may seem curious in a city known for its hostess bars, even though those hostesses are more likely to play ... read more
There’s nothing I find more satisfying than showing off my chosen city of Phnom Penh to friends from the old country. I get to see my favourite haunts with fresh eyes and revisit the differences which have become commonplace. And I get to answer questions like, “What is a classic Phnom Penh ... read more
Do you really need a guide?
You’re never far from a beer in Cambodia — the market is dominated by the jingoistically named Angkor, for sale alongside beers called Cambodia, Phnom Penh, Banker, Anchor (pronounced An-chor to distinguish it from Ang-kor) and Klang — strong by name, strong by alcoholic content. But if ... read more
One of Golden Street's favourite spots3a Street 278, Phnom Penh
T: (085) 023 6767593 / (085) 092 821700
Close to Independence Monument, Equinox is slap bang in the middle of the evening entertainment strip on Street 278, usually known as Golden Street. Away from the tour groups on riverside or the appealing mother-wouldn’t-approve sleaziness of Street 51, the more refined Golden Street is home to ... read more
Cafes and brunch
Shady spot for a lazy lunch9b Street 29, Tonle Bassac
T: (017) 873 101
Tucked away in Phnom Penh’s Tonle Bassac area, five minutes’ walk from the Independence Monument, Botanico Gastro Bar is a hidden jungle refuge in the city. In a city lacking in parks, it’s a cool shady spot for a long and lazy brunch or a relaxed dinner after a day of hitting the markets. ... read more
Popular and long running56 Sihanouk Boulevard
T: (023) 987 420
Showing plenty of foresight, Java Cafe and Gallery has been open since 2000, well ahead of the curve which has seen a new coffee shop open almost every week in Phnom Penh recently. Java is centrally located just two minutes’ walk from the Independence Monument, with views over Sihanouk Boulevard ... read more
Ideal for a cosy natter over coffee and cake#126 Street 19
T: (077) 589 458
Every so often in Phnom Penh, you pass something that makes you look twice. Granted, it’s often an overladen motorbike or a T-shirt with words you are sure the wearer doesn’t understand. But the Botanic Cafe on Street 19 also prompts a double take. When you first spot it, nestled behind a ... read more
ARTillery Cafe's focus is tasty foodStreet 240 1/2 (off Street 240)
T: (078) 985 530
Phnom Penh is full of secret places — alleys and entrances and little squares that you’re unlikely to ever notice. Most tourists never take the risk of getting lost wandering in this hidden side of the city. But if you venture down a typical alleyway on well-known Street 240 and turn the ... read more
A touch of healthy decadence#29 Street 240, Phnom Penh
T: (023) 986 964, (092) 955 963
Slap in the middle of Phnom Penh’s spending spree-inducing Street 240, The Shop is a great choice for a pre-retail breakfast or a post-Palace coffee. Serving up fresh and tasty food since 2001, this Belgian-owned place is a bit of an institution among expats, who gather in swarms for long weekend ... read more
Relaxed Mexican42A Street 454 (corner with Street 123), Phnom Penh
T: (092) 424 903
If you’re feeling peckish in the vicinity of the Russian Market, Alma Cafe is worth hunting out. A Khmer house might not be the obvious location for yummy, good value Mexican food, but the colourful poncho hanging outside shows you’re in the right place. ... read more
Honest-to-goodness value for money26B Street 446, Phsar Toul Tom Poung
T: (012) 918 244
Phsar Toul Toum Poung (aka Russian Market) in Phnom Penh is a sweaty heaving church of consumerism where the most devout can spend hours walking in circles and haggling for bargains. But even dedicated shoppers need time off for good behaviour, which is where the Sisters All Day Bakery Shop comes ... read more
South American and Mediterranean flavoursChinese House, 45 Sisowath Quay, at Street 84 in front of Phnom Penh Port.
T: (023) 991 514
Bringing a bit of South America to Phnom Penh, a team of Venezuelans have opened a new restaurant and bar at the Chinese House on Sisowath Quay. Antonio Lopez de Haro, originally from Caracas, Venezuela, first visited Phnom Penh while he was living in Singapore. He liked it so much he kept coming ... read more
Out of the way but worth itSokimex Station Russian Confederation Boulevar
For those in Phnom Penh looking for a little taste of home, Mike’s Burger House serves up some of Phnom Penh’s most-loved burgers that are noteworthy for being both toothsome and enormous.Proprietor Im Chenda, who goes by Mike, is originally from Battambang province, but at the end of the Khmer ... read more
The Empire, a small bar, restaurant and cinema34 Street 130, Phnom Penh
T: (077) 488 243
The streets behind Phnom Penh‘s riverside are a microcosm of the city — there’s karaoke, street food, hostess bars, fast food joints, hairdressers, hotels and tailors. In all the excitement, it might be easy to overlook The Empire, a small bar and restaurant and cinema squeezed into a regular ... read more
The name gives it away117 Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh
T: (023) 720 011
If you’re travelling around Asia for a while, the time comes when fish sauce, rice and curries lose their novelty, and your mouth starts craving new taste sensations. Fortunately, Phnom Penh has a world of cuisine available at reasonable prices, so there’s no need to tame your tongue. Near the ... read more
Dine while you spot the landmarkWat Chas Road, Chroy Chungvar, Phnom Penh
T: (023) 432 2013
Boasting one of the best views of sunset and the Phnom Penh skyline, Mekong View Tower does exactly what it says on the neon sign. It takes some effort to get there across the bridge at the northern end of town, but those who make the journey are rewarded with two rivers and the beauty of the city ... read more
An old backpacker favourite43 Street 172, Phnom Penh
T: 012 765 591
A short ramble from the riverside on Street 172 in Phnom Penh, Laughing Fatman is an old backpacker favourite in an upcoming tourist hotspot. Formerly Oh My Buddha at Lakeside, moving close to Wat Ounalom required a name change that wouldn’t upset the monks. Seems they have no problem with ... read more
Generous portions in unpretentious surroundings#5 Street 9, Phnom Penh
T: 012 703 708 / 023 210 787
Following on from the lowdown on cheap eats, this particular Phnom Penh provider of good value nosh deserved to have its praises sung a little more loudly. Restaurant Phsar Kabko is almost opposite the market it’s named for on Street 9, just off Sihanouk Boulevard east of Independence Monument. ... read more
Hand pulled noodles553 Monivong Blvd, Phnom Penh
T: 012 937 805
Long hailed as one of Phnom Penh’s best-kept secrets, Chinese Noodle Restaurant dishes up hand-pulled noodles and homemade dumplings on the cheap. It’s not much of a secret any more, but the place still feels like it’s hidden in plain sight on Monivong Boulevard a few blocks below Sihanouk. ... read more
Good for those stretching a budget25 Street 178, Phnom Penh
T: 012 967 480
Tucked into a difficult-to-spot shophouse on Street 178 in Phnom Penh within spitting distance of Phnom Penh’s National Museum, Warung Bali only has nine tables. So before we go any further, you have to promise not to go there when we want dinner. Deal? ... read more
A Viet hit11 Street 178, Phnom Penh
T: (012) 538 904
Two minutes from Phnom Penh‘s riverside, just around the corner from perennial tourist favourite the FCC, you’ll find the small but perfectly formed Lucky Pho. If you’ve crossed from Vietnam and have a hankering for soup, you won’t be disappointed here. The price may be higher than on a ... read more
Specialist Japanese5 Street 360, Boeung Keng Kang 1, Phnom Penh
T: (023) 218 037
Phnom Penh has always been ahead of the curve with a wide range of international cuisine for a city of its size. So it was no surprise to learn that a specialist Japanese restaurant had recently been added to the mix. What did take me aback was the reaction when I mentioned the Uraetei Yakiniku ... read more
Eating for a cause
Friends on Street 13, part of the Mith Samlanh NGO, trains and employs former street youth and serves up a delicious array of drinks and tapas. The food is healthy and varied, the drinks refreshing -- try anything with soursop -- and prices slightly upmarket but not beyond most backpackers' reach. The fun, colourful atmosphere and amiable staff make this spot worth going out of your way for, and of course, when you get the bill, just think of the children. It's very close to the National Museum, so you could tie in a visit to a rejuvenating break here.
Also part of Mith Samlanh,Romdeng on Street 278 just near the Independence Monument also trains former street youth and serves up traditional Khmer cuisine from the provinces. The menu features almost 40 dishes and the portions are generous. Pleasant staff serve tables inside and out, where plenty of fans make eating comfortable.
The Lazy Gecko on Street 258 offers a large selection of tasty, reasonably-priced Western dishes served in a comfortable environment. In addition to offering general travel advice, they run a bus to a local orphanage for those who want to give back to Phnom Penh's poor without being taken advantage of. They also provide tours to Phnom Tamao, a local wildlife refuge.
Friends - 215 St 13, Phnom Penh. T: (012) 802 072. http://www.streetfriends.org
Romdeng - 21 St 278, Phnom Penh. T: (092) 219 565. http://www.streetfriends.org
The Lazy Gecko - St 258, Phnom Penh.
Coffee shops, bakeries, delis
Jars of Clay, located near the energy-sapping Russian Market, is an expat-oriented coffee and lunch place where the food is reasonable and the setting peaceful. Scone fans will be surprised: Yes, someone actually makes scones in Phnom Penh and they serve them up here. They also bake cakes and pies to order, in case you wind up in Phnom Penh on Thanksgiving or someone's birthday. The homemade sugar cookies at Christmas-time taste just like mum's.
Check out Cafe Fresco, a trendy coffee shop and deli, below the FCC and run by the same people, for a cool smoothy and sandwich in air-con comfort or an early morning java on the patio. They have a second location at the intersection of Streets 306 and 51 in BKK 1. They offer a large selection of hot and cold beverages, and great toasted submarine-style sandwiches. A 50% discount applies to baked goods between 17:00 and 20:00.
Java Cafe and Gallery is a funky, airy place overlooking Sihanouk Boulevard -- it has an excellent breakfast menu with generous portions but somewhat high prices. Still, it's the only place in town where you can get a half-way decent bagel, and the eggs Florentine is sublime. Service, particularly at lunch, can be glacial pace -- but you don't come to Java if you're in a hurry. The interior has air-con and always displays local or foreign art shows.
Living room cafe and function space is identified by a small sign and a huge white gate. Inside, this three-floor, airy villa is filled with foreigners sipping lattes on lounge chairs and typing away on their laptops. There are side rooms for clubs and meetings, and the cafe is often the site of NGO parties and art exhibit launches. The walls double as a rotating photo gallery, and on the corkboard downstairs you can find everything from a vacant apartment to a French tutor. The fresh bread is to die for, and the coffees and teas worth the $2.00-plus price tag.
Jars of Clay - 39b Street 155, Phnom Penh.
Cafe Fresco - 361 Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh; Street 306 corner of Street 51, Phnom Penh; #58 Street 53 at Central Market T: (012) 235 222, (023) 217 041. Closed Mondays.
Java Cafe and Gallery - 56 E1 Sihanouk Blvd, Phnom Penh. T: (012) 833 512, (012) 833 512. Open Tues-Sun, 07:00 to 22:00.
Living Room – 9 Street 306, Phnom Penh. T: (092) 311 500, (023) 726 139. cafelivingroom.com.kh. Open 07:00 to 20:30, last orders at 20:00.
Khmer and Thai
Khmer Surin is generally the first Khmer place to be recommended to visitors, hence the touristy feel to the place. The restaurant doubled in size in late 2008, and you can now enter via the original restaurant or at the "South Gate." They claim authentic Khmer cuisine and their menu is exhaustive, though leaves out market standards. The ambience resembles that of a high-class restaurant, but the prices are budget, with most mains costing about $3.50. The upstairs area features soft cushions on the floor for the comfort of Western bums. Service can be a little indifferent (when we visited, our meal came in reverse order: main, appetizer, then drinks), but if you're wary of street meat, it's a safe place to sample Khmer cuisine.
Khmer Saravan is the place tourists who have just arrived can visit to try their first, reliably good Khmer dish in a comfortable, expat-oriented setting. The restaurant is known for its tasty amok, and scribbled placemats and notes from customers testifying to that and other highlights are plastered all over the restaurant. The beef lok laak is tasty and the pitchers of cheap Angkor beer a bargain.
Strolling along the riverside, you're bound to notice the big sign for Chiang Mai Riverside Restaurant. Don't be put off by the menu alarmingly full of photos as the Thai food here is excellent. It's spiced down somewhat for the foreign tongue so ask for spicy if that's the way you like it. Great tofu larb.
Directly opposite the Rising Sun, Fortune Pho does indeed dish out good pho, and at $2.00 a bowl, this is one of Sisowath Quay's cheaper barang-oriented spots. Meals even come with free dessert, even if it's only sliced bananas. It's a simple, brief menu -- in fact we've never got past the pho. Friendly, dog-loving owners.
Frizz Restaurant, now situated along the upscale, tree-lined Street 240, offers a great selection of tasty Khmer food -- some of it really is top notch. Service is excellent and the English-speaking staff very friendly. They host popular day-long, $20 cooking classes with an English-speaking Khmer chef. Prepare to grind chillies in stone pots and create intricate dishes.
Don't overlook Taboo, which offers similar fare at similar low prices, and attracts a lot of locals as well as travellers. We found the atmosphere a bit livelier here and it's one of the few places along the river that actually makes you feel like you're in Cambodia.
The Lemongrass is a beautiful little staple Thai food joint -- one reader wrote to tell us that the food here is 'absolutely fabulous'. We'd say the same about the atmosphere and the decor, and we're definitely impressed by the reasonable prices. The relatively new restaurant is quickly becoming the go-to place for Thai on the riverside.
Amok Restaurant &Cafe - 2 Street 278, Phnom Penh. T: (012) 912 319
Chiang Mai Riverside - 227Eo Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh. T: (012) 832 369, (011) 811 456, (011) 872 858. Open daily, 10:00 to 22:00
Fortune Pho - Street 178, Phnom Penh T: (017) 866 672, (011) 848 656
Frizz Restaurant - 67 Street 240, Phnom Penh T: (023) 220 953, (012) 524 801 www.frizz-restaurant.com
Khmer Saravan – 16 Eo Sothearos. T: (012) 845 679, (011) 883 875. Vuthy_vann@yahoo.com
Khmer Surin - 9 St 57, Phnom Penh. T: (023) 363 050, (012) 887 320. Open daily, 11:00 to 21:00.
Lemongrass Restaurant - 14 Street 130, Phnom Penh. T: (023) 222 705, (012) 996 707. Open daily, 10:00 to 22:00
Taboo Bar &Restaurant - 331 Sisaowath Quay, Phnom Penh. T: (012) 864 997. email@example.com
Indian and other Asian
For Indian dining in Phnom Penh, head to Sher-e-punjab Indian Restaurant. The Tandoori BBQ dishes are some of the best Indian we've tasted, and everything else is reliably top-notch, especially for the low price tag.
In a class all by itself is Le Seoul Korean Restaurant, located between Le Royal and the Phnom Penh Hotel, and it's probably only in your price range if you can afford to stay at the former. The interior is exquisite and prices high -- you'll easily pay US$50 per person to enjoy a meal here. But it does seem to offer authentic Korean kalbi and other traditional favourites. The extensive French wine list partly explains the 'Le' in 'Le Seoul.' Lunches are quite reasonably priced and very filling.
For sushi check out reasonably-priced Origami. We found even better value and some great food at Suzume Japanese Kitchen and Pub on Street 51. It's a clean, sleekly-designed place with some Asian-style seating and sit-down tables. The menu offers Japansese favourites like donburis, yakitoris, and soba noodles from US$3 to 14, with most meals in the $6 or $7 range. Sushi's a bit more pricey with platters going from US$8-20. This place is very popular with Japanese tourists, which is always a good sign, and the owner is Japanese as well.
Another recently opened Japanese favourite is The Sushi Bar, an impressive Japanese emporium on Street 302 in the expat-beloved BKK1 area of the city. Numerous Japanese restaurants at all price points and styles have opened in recent months, heralding Phnom Penh’s latest culinary craze.
Warung Bali is a fantastic Indonesian restaurant right near the riverside, across from forgettable, overpriced Cafe 33. The decor doesn't look like much, but the place is regularly crowded with locals--a sure bet that it's good. Try the traditional fried rice. The eggplant with chilli and the tofu dishes are also both delicious.
Ebony Apsara is a small restaurant that doubles as a clothing shop. Young people lounge around on low-slung padded benches playing board games. The $3.25 breakfast special, which comes with coffee and orange juice, is a great deal.
Given the proximity of Phnom Penh to Saigon and the number of Vietnamese living here, you'd think the town would be full of great Vietnamese food. In fact, it's hard to come by, but one great place is worth checking out. An Nam is an excellent air-con spot that does great pho along with some super-tasty beef rolls, a fantastic veggie pancake thing and some phenomenal noodle dishes. The atmosphere is rather kindergarten-like, with straight-backed chairs in pastel colours. A friend once commented that it feels like being trapped inside an Easter egg. Prices are high, but the service is prompt. Don't expect to leave feeling full without spending at least $10 to $15 per person.
The newish Maxim Saigon has an extensive menu of reasonably-priced, authentic, southern Vietnamese style eats. Since An Nam is way down on the southern riverside, this is the place to head if you're staying further north. The owner of Maxim's is Vietnamese, but spent many years living in Brooklyn so speaks English like he still roots for the Dodgers.
Dosa Corner, next door to Herb Cafe and some of the more forgettable barang spots near the Golden guesthouses, features some of the best Indian in town. Grab one of the two patio tables to avoid the stifling heat inside this shoebox-size restaurants. Children are usually running around this family-owned place, and it feels a bit as if you're dining at the home of a friendly Indian family. Everything's good here. We found the fixed price lunch a bit overpriced and under-filling but order a la carte and you will be pleased. Right around the corner, Taste Budz does the same thing but even better.
We're actually hesitant to publicize this place because we're greedy and want to keep it to ourselves. But Chinese Noodle Restaurant, near the corner of Street 288 on Monivong Boulevard, might be Phnom Penh's best-kept secret. Outside, nightly, you can watch young men transform a ball of wheat dough into thin, perfectly round noodles, slicing and stretching, with precision and flair. The noodle soups are incredible, as are the dumplings. The woman who runs the place is surly to the point of comedy. We like to think of her as Phnom Penh's Soup Nazi (Seinfeld anyone?) and wholeheartedly agree that anyone who makes soup this good can treat their customers however they please.
An Nam - #118 Sothearos, Phnom Penh. T: (023) 212 460 . Open daily, 07:30 to 22:30
Chinese Noodle Restaurant – 551 -553 Monivong Boulevard, Phnom Penh. T: (012) 937 805
Dosa Corner – 5E Street 51, Phnom Penh. Open daily, 08:30 to 14:00, 17:00 to 22:00
Ebony Apsara – 42 Street 178, T: (012) 549 373
'Le Seoul' Korean Restaurant - 62 Monivong Boulevard, Phnom Penh. T: (023) 427 000, (092) 411 700, (016) 578 288. Open daily, 11:00 to 14:30, 17:00 to 23:00.
Maxim Saigon - 4 Street 130, Phnom Penh. T: (012) 868 531. Open daily, 08:30 to 21:30
Origami - 88 Southearos, Phnom Penh. T: (012) 968-095
Sher-e-punjab Indian Restaurant - 16Eo Street 130, Phnom Penh. T: (092) 992 901, (092) 261 270, (023) 992 901. Open daily, 08:00 to 23:00. firstname.lastname@example.org
Sher-e-punjnab II - No 72 Sothearos, Phnom Penh. T: (012) 985 844, (012) 215 578. Open daily, 08:00 to 23:00
Suzume Japanese Restaurant and Bar - 14Eo Street 51, Phnom Penh. T: (012) 800 367. Open for lunch and dinner, closed 14:00-17:00.
Warung Bali – 25Eo Stree. 178 T: (012) 831 528
French and European
Fancy French dining can be found at Atmosphere, though at a glance and on a quiet day it looks to be a little lacking in what it is called. The place however really grows on you and it successfully draws a regular crowd of expats and tourists alike. The food is excellent -- particularly their white/dark chocolate mousse.While it's one of the pricier restaurants in town, it's still not quite as expensive as Topaz, one of Phnom Penh's most popular spots for extravagant, wine-fueled Continental dining. An outstanding French restaurant, this place disappoints only if you're vegetarian. They'll promise to whip you up something but in our case, it came in an obviously seafood stock. Meat eaters, however, could think they've died and gone to heaven with a huge range of dishes, including succulent steaks. Their creme brulee is wonderful as well. While expensive by Phnom Penh standards, it's outstanding value compared to overseas. Very professional service.
Comme a la Maison Delicatessen is a pleasant, hidden away eatery set in a garden terrace and has a laid-back but stylish French feel. The steaks offer good value, pizzas are scrummy and their salad Nicoise superb. The ice-cream desserts alone make the trip worth it. You can expect professional, warm service. They also have a great little bakery inside, with excellent croissants, and rillettes which get good reviews from our French pals.
Rega Hotel and Restaurant is a little hole-in-the-wall French and Khmer restaurant offering rock bottom prices for fabulous simple French food -- you'll pay ten times the price in the fancier digs in town. Excellent staff, though not all speak English -- French speakers will feel right at home.
Another great deal for French food is La Marmite. It has a cosy, relaxed ambience. Very well priced, simple fare, with mains around US$4 to 6. Great Toulouse sausages with lentils.
Toward the river,La Croisette offers affordable and decent dishes, with a major remodel in 2013 that has updated the space. Germanic influenced cuisine includes pizza, pasta, and meat dishes, with multiple side-dish options and a large cocktail menu. It has a good corner location and a lot of potted plants to separate you from the confusion of the streets.
Though French cuisine dominates Phnom Pehn's upscale food market (for obvious reasons), the Spanish flag is well-planted here as well. Del Gusto is a charming, tucked away guesthouse and restaurant set in a lovely house with friendly staff serving salads, tapas and pita sandwiches. They stop serving breakfast at noon, and are strict on this policy, so if you want the eggs Benedict, come early. Del Gusto's only drawback is that it's a little out of the way, though most of the tuk tuk drivers know where it is, if you use the correct mispronunciation of the name, "De-goo-toh". If there's any confusion, just tell them to take you to Tuol Sleng, then make the first left after the entrance, and the restaurant is at the end of the street. Be sure to get there early to grab the best-positioned veranda table (unless we beat you to it) and snag one of the few standing fans. The music here is often lousy (think: Pussycat Dolls on full blast) but the staff is usually responsive if you ask them to turn it down or change the tunes.
Le Wok, on Street 178 near the riverside, is a bit like a miniature FCC. Its colours, like many of its colonial-style counterparts, are taupe and burgundy. The French cuisine is top-notch. Go for a fixed-price meal for $9, including three courses and an espresso. The wine list is extensive.
Atmosphere - 141C Norodom Boulevard, Phnom Penh. T: (023) 994 224
Comme a la Maison Delicatessen - 13, Street 57, Phnom Penh. T: (023) 360 801, (012) 951 869. Open daily, 06:00 to 22:30. www.comealamaison-delicatessen.com
The Boddhi Tree--Del Gusto - 43 Street 95, Phnom Penh. T: (012) 565 509. www.boddhitree.com
Le Wok – 35 Eo Street 178, Phhom Penh. T: (092) 821 857
La Croisette - 241 Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh. T: (023) 220 554, (092) 971 204. email@example.com
La Marmite - 80 Street 108, Phnom Penh. T: (012) 391 746. Open daily, 11:00 to 14:00, 18:00 to 22:00
Lyon D'Or - 12 Street 110, Phnom Penh. T: (023) 224 298. F: (023) 217 710. www.lyondorkh.com
Pacharan - 389E1 Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh. T: (023) 224 394. pacharan.fcccambodia.com
Rega Guest House and Restaurant - 08 Street 75, Phnom Penh. T: (023) 986 251, (012) 897 205, (012) 882 810. firstname.lastname@example.org
Topaz Restaurant and Piano Bar - 100 Sothearos Boulegvard, Phnom Penh. T: (023) 211 054. email@example.com
The Shop serves up the best light Western fare on St 240, if not all of Phnom Penh, with an ever-changing menu of delicious salads, sandwiches and imaginative drinks. Only gripe here is that the lovely staff don't give table service, when in such a small place it would actually be easier for all if they did. The Shop transforms you to a brunch cafe in New York's Lower East Side. The bright bakery lists its daily dishes on the huge chalkboards lining the wall, and stacks of freshly baked breads, croissants, and pastries fill a wooden cabinet. The food is a bit cheaper than Java and some of the other competitors in the area, and the food is superior. Two doors down is Chocolate by The Shop, a small Belgian chocolate shop.
Pizza is widely available all over Phnom Penh, and the quality is generally quite good. When it comes to real, stringy, gooey-delicious mozzarella cheese, Cambodia seems to have diverted all the shipments here and left the rest of the countries in the region to fend for themselves.
Luna d'Autunno promises the moon -- and delivers. The owners have spared no expense in the garden area, building a huge outdoor kitchen and renovating the house interior. The staff are friendly and attentive, and they can easily accommodate large groups.
Le Duo on Street 228 is a good spot if you can get past the 1980s-style apricot-fanned napkins in the wine glasses. The pizzas are very good -- particularly with aubergine -- and are cooked with a flourish in a wood-fired pizza forming the restaurant's focal point. Staff are attentive and the friendly hosts drift between tables making sure everything is up to scratch. Specialising in French, Italian and Sicilian dishes, the latter two seem to be what this place is about -- the osso bucco special sounds tempting. Be wary of their Calzones, however: they include the insides of your choice, but also an obligatory raw egg.
There ain't a lot of Mexican food in Cambodia, but rumour has it airline pilots fly in from Bangkok just to eat at Cantina and it's easy to see why. Despite its simple decor and plastic tables and chairs Cantina is a welcome distraction from the string of nearby happy pizza joints. A jovial atmosphere and a favourite of local hacks, Cantina has good prices and service with a smile. Look for the owner eating and drinking out front with his guests.
Freebird Cafe and Grill transports you from Phnom Penh back to the developed world. Their delicious menu includes Western mains, tex-mex, pizzas, Asian dishes, an extensive drink menu, as well as arguably the best burgers in Phnom Penh (order them well done to avoid eating raw beef.) This is a great place to eat or chill -- check out their free chilli every first Saturday of the month from 14:00 to 16:00.
Given that the town conspicuously features a 'Russian Market,' you might expect a good selection of Russian restaurants to match. While the Russians are long gone, they did leave behind Irina Russian Restaurant, which offers a wide selection of solid dishes, all of which will leave you stuffed like a Cossack. Potatoes are the main ingredient in just about everything on the menu. We recommend trying the seliodka with a few shots of their home-made vodka -- excellent. They also deliver.Kandal House is a real stand-out along the river for a great atmosphere and good Western food. Daily specials, such as pork chops and mashed potatoes, come with a glass of the drinkable house wine. The pizzas here are very good and there's always a canister of grated parmesan on the table.
If you're hankering for a juicy steak, several places along the river will oblige you, usually for about US$14 for a 200g steak. For a Texas-sized feed, head to K-West Steakhouse in the lobby of the Amanjaya Hotel -- the place is never very full or very lively, but the decor is sleek and appealing and it does offer big, thick steaks up to 400g in size. You'll pay up to US$33 for a 360g tenderloin. The rest of the menu offers standard Western favourites reasonably priced in the US$6-16 range. Free WiFi is available and it's a favourite hangout for the laptop crowd.
Located just south of the FCC, the long and narrow Pop Cafe has some of the finest Italian food in Phnom Penh. Because of its small size, a server is never far away, though it can be hard to get a table during the supper rush. Expect to spend US$7-$10 a person including a drink -- a bit steep, but worth the price.
Just off the river, down the road from the FCC, the Rising Sun does standard pub-grub -- if you're after comfort food, you could do a lot worse than here. Particularly friendly staff are a big asset along with good prices. There's a country and western music night on Fridays--so visit or avoid accordingly. The Trainspotting and blood-smeared Marlon Brando Apocolypse Now posters add to the ambience. Breakfasts here make for a good morning after a long night.
It's not much to look at, but the pizzas at Veiyo Tonle Pizza are possibly the best in town, particularly their vegetarian spread. Their carbonara is great too. A huge menu and a good position on Sisowath make this a difficult place to beat if you have a pizza craving, although it is a little more expensive than the standard backpacker places.
The Tamarind is a popular restaurant with friendly staff, one of the many great eateries lining Street 240. Specialising in Moroccan cuisine, their tagines are good value and their pastas delicious as well. Don't stop at the comfy streetside seating, but head upstairs to their terrace. It's one of the best terraces in town, breezy with groups of people lounging on pillowed sitting areas, surrounded by billowing silk curtains. The food isn't cheap, but pretty much in line with similar quality places elsewhere in town. Happy hours are from 15:00 to 19:00 daily, cocktails 50% off. This is one of the few places in town that rents hookah pipes too. We recommend the apple-flavoured sheesha.
You can do much worse on the river than The Riverhouse Lounge toward the north end of Sisowath Quay. Downstairs is fine dining while upstairs is laid back, including private balconies and live jazz. Don't let the bow-tied waiters throw you off: The food here is not only very good, it's reasonably-priced, though the drinks are overpriced.
And don't confuse either of these similar names with River Street Bar &Restaurant, on the corner of Sisowath and Street 178. This is another fine choice right near the FCC. The food is much cheaper and the number of pizza choices astounding.
Chocolate by The Shop – 35 Street 240, Phnom Penh. T: (023) 998 638
Cantina - 347 Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh
Freebird Cafe and Grill - 69 Street 240, Phnom Penh. T: (023) 224 712. Freebird_bar@yahoo.com
Garden Center Cafe One - 60-61 Street 108, Phnom Penh. T: (023) 997 850, (092) 429 968 . Closed Mondays.
Garden Center Cafe Two - 4 BEo Street 57, Phnom Penh. T: (092) 206 582, (023) 363 002. Closed Tuesdays
Irina Russian Restaurant - 15 Street 352, Phnom Penh. T: (012) 833 524. Open daily, 12:00 until latewww.rus-cambodia.narod.ru
K-West Steakhouse - 1 Street 154, Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh. T: (023) 214 747. F: (053) 219 545
Le Duo - 41 Street 322, Phnom Penh. T: (023) 991 906, (012) 342 921
Le Cedre – 1 Street 360, Phnom Penh. T: (023) 997 965, (012) 810 731 (1st branch). 383 Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh. T: (023) 990 301 (2nd branch). www.lecererestaurant.com. firstname.lastname@example.org
Luna d'Autunno - #6c Street 29, Phnom Penh. T: (023) 220 895. Open daily, 11:30 to 14:00, 17:30 to 22:00
Pop Cafe - 371 Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh
Rising Sun - 20 Street 178, Phnom Penh. T: (012) 970 719, (012) 970 718. Open 07:00 to 24:00
Riverside Bistro - Corner of Sisowath Quay and 148 Street, Phnom Penh. T: (023) 213 898, (012) 277 882 www.riverside-bistro.com
The Kandal House - 239 Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh. T: (012) 525 612
The Riverhouse Lounge - 6 Street 110, corner of Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh. T: (023) 212 302 www.riverhousecambodia.com
River Street Bar &Restaurant – 357 – 359 Sisowath Quay. T: (092) 968 456
Saffron Cafe and Bar – 11 Street 278, Phnom Penh T: (012) 247 832. Yvette@online.com.kh Open 11:00-22:00
The Shop - 39 Street 240, Phnom Penh. T: (023) 986 964. Open Mon-Sat 07:00 to 19:00, Sun 07:00 to 15:00 Theshop.email@example.com
The Tamarind - 31 Street 240, Phnom Penh. T: (012) 830 139. www.tamarindrestaurant.biz
Veiyo Tonle Pizza - 237 Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh. T: (012) 847 419
Bars and pubs
Girls, don that little black dress you've got stuffed somewhere in your backpack, and guys, get out your sharpest-looking, least-wrinkled shirt and head over to happy hour (18:00-20:00) at The Elephant Bar, at the elegant Le Royal, where two fabulous Femme Fatale champagne cocktails will set you back US$8. Friday nights are most popular with the expat crowd.
Phnom Penh's most infamous bar and club, the Heart of Darkness, was closed for a while after a guest was shot dead in 2005 but is now up and running again. It's become a bit of a tourist trap since, capitalising on its notoriety to keep pulling in locals, expats and travellers. Some embassies warn their nationals not to come here, but to put things in perspective, a tourist was shot to death after an altercation at Hippies Bar on Ko Phi Phi in Thailand in 2006, and no one seems to be too fussed about that. Six armed guards hovered at the entrance when we visited and everyone was well frisked and searched. Once inside, we found more guards, and the place was packed with a friendly crowd of travellers and locals getting jiggy on the dance floor. We felt a lot safer here than out on the street dodging tuk tuks, but the rumour is the 'gangstas' get to skip the search at the door, and you best tread lightly if you encounter one of the 'guys' looking for trouble.
Nearby you'll also find borderline pick-up joint Howie's Bar, which doesn't really get going till after midnight, but if you feel like getting thrashed at Connect-4 by the friendly staff, you're welcome any time after 19:00. The soundtrack is a surreal 80's flashback, with occasional divergences into hard rock and recent pop tunes.
Next door, Zeppelin Cafe, known by locals as "Rock Bar," is sleaze-free. There's an impressive selection of vinyl records in the back of the bar, played every night by a DJ who's meticulous about playing good tunes. He encourages you to leaf through the collection and make requests. The beers here are cheaper than those nearby--a bottle of ice-cold Beer Laos is $1.50. The food is tasty and well-priced too. Try the $1.50 platter of steamed dumplings.
Another also-ran in the same category is Sharky’s Bar -- a large bar with a bunch of pool tables and a spacious upstairs veranda great for watching the street below. Drinks are cheap, but things start to get sleazy pretty early in the day, and it only gets worse as the night rolls on. You might check it out for the Tex-Mex take-away and delivery. Sharky’s is a popular venue for live music, and worth checking out when visiting rock bands are in town.
Gym Bar is a sports bar with two huge projector screen TVs and a satellite hook-up that gets plenty of Australian and European sports. They show mainly football and rugby, but the owner will tape and replay events at your request. They also have a decent menu, and a back-up generator to keep the on-screen action going during Phnom Penh's frequent power outages. While they excel in screens, suds and snacks, they lack air-con. Tuesdays are Pub Quiz nights, and for $1 you can answer English-oriented questions for the chance to win a $30 bar tab.
Equinox is a small, open-air bar near Top Banana Guesthouse, encompassing three stories. Its draft beer specials are always a bargain. The bar features rotating photo exhibits. On any given weekend night, expect to find about half of Phnom Penh's Spanish expat community huddled around the bar. Tasty European food is on offer, with small pizzas, sandwiches, and crepes – as well as some of the finest loc lac in town (try it with mashed potatoes). The place is often a Who's Who of other notable locals, with journalists and interns and staffers from the Khmer Rouge tribunals relaxing after a long week.
Everyone showing up in Phnom Penh seems to want to check out the famed Foreign Correspondents Club. Truth be told, this place is a tourist trap trading on its historic reputation -- it's not even a correspondent's club. On any given night you'll find tourists looking around at each other, eagerly trying to figure out what the big deal about the place is, and everyone wondering if everyone else might be one of those mysterious and elusive 'foreign correspondents'. These once-cushy postings are now held mainly by freelancers, and you're more likely to catch them at the cheaper bars (like Cantina or Rock Bar). However, the FCC is still a common meeting place for aid groups and local political clubs. Nevertheless, the club is housed in a magnificent building on Sisowath Quay, with two levels of open-air terrace seating. Service can be very hit and miss, and the prices, with no entree less than $10, are definitely targeted to bilk the looky-loos, not to please local expats. The trick is to come for the atmosphere a
A quintessential Khmer dish
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Pork with rice
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Just deliciousEnd of Street 258 (the Lazy Gecko and Okay Guesthouse area)
There’s a woman who comes through my neighbourhood every afternoon, shouting in a high-pitched grating tone “NOOOOOM PLAAAAAAAAAAE AAAAAIIIIIII”. Until recently, I had never seen her face, but I could hear her coming from blocks away, and after she passed my house, I could still hear “nooom ... read more
No name but goodNorodom Boulevard opposite Street 178, Phnom Penh
On Norodom Boulevard, amid the colonial throwback government offices, beauty clinics and banks, sits an old and dilapidated mansion. By day, it’s just another example of the crumbling, elegant history that Phnom Penh still has to offer. But in the evening its courtyard comes alive with plastic ... read more
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