Restaurant Phsar Kabko

Generous portions in unpretentious surroundings

What we say: 3.5 stars

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. In the best tradition of canteen food, it serves up generous portions in unpretentious surroundings to satisfied regulars.

Take your pick ...

Take your pick …

Choose from an assortment of hot dishes displayed in a long glass cabinet streetside, supplemented by fish from the barbecue. If you’re not quite sure what it is, give in to your adventurous side. This is where you get to discover that Cambodian cuisine is much more than lok lak and amok. Chicken dishes will come with bones — the theory goes that it’s a boring meal if you don’t have something to gnaw on. Don’t forget the steamed rice, as no self-respecting Khmer lunch should be served without it. Once you’ve ordered, the staff will plate up your selection and bring it to your table. Prices vary according to what you order, but a recent meal for two of a grilled fish, a dish of beef and green beans, rice and two Cokes came in at $5 (yep, I’m a cheap date!).

Like the Tardis, bigger on the inside

Like the Tardis, bigger on the inside.

There’s plenty of seating in the downstairs cafeteria, but those in the know muscle their way onto the airy terrace overlooking the street. Shaded by green bamboo blinds and vociferous planting, the few tables here fill up fast. If you’re pipped to the post, long tables in the upstairs room seat up to 10 people each. The truly unique collection of ornaments and wall decorations (the plastic stag’s head is a personal favourite) will keep you busy when conversation runs slow.

An unusually quiet terrace

An unusually quiet terrace

Restaurant Phsar Kabko attracts an eclectic mix of diners, from groups of colleagues sharing lunch to students and backpackers. The lunch rush starts around 11:30 and there’s a steady stream of customers for the next two hours. The terrace is also a great spot for a relaxed afternoon of people watching over an iced coffee. Observe the goings-on at the market, or the women outside the tailor shop opposite, embellishing dresses with a remarkable number of sequins.

This is a great eatery for cheap-seekers — those who prefer waiter service, ambiance and menu-ordered food may feel more in their element at nearby Malis on Norodorm Boulevard or Khmer Surin on Street 57.

Contact details
#5 Street 9, Phnom Penh
T: 012 703 708 / 023 210 787
About the author
Abigail has been stoned by villagers in India, become an honorary Kenyan tribeswoman, sweet talked border guards and had close encounters with black mambas. Her motto is: “Live to tell the tale.”

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