Bargain breakfasts in Phnom Penh

What we say: 3.5 stars

When Winnie the Pooh wakes up in the morning, he wonders what’s for breakfast. His little porcine friend Piglet wonders what’s going to happen that’s exciting that day. They agree that it’s the same thing. In Phnom Penh, breakfast can certainly be an adventure all on its own, even if you’re eating on a budget. Just don’t tell Piglet there’s pork on the menu!

Breakfast of cheap champions.

Breakfast of cheap champions.

For the cheapest and most adventurous breakfast, go the Cambodian way with bai sach chrouk at a street stall. Priced somewhere between 2,500 and 5,000 riel depending on portion size and accoutrements such as a fried egg or soup, you’ll share a table with hungry Khmers from all walks of life. It’s quite normal for a Range Rover to pull up alongside a motodop’s trusty Daelim to get some morning nyam. Practise your phrasebook Khmer and don’t be afraid of the chilli jam — you can wash it down with the free tea provided.

Staying on riverside? Mekong River has a buffet breakfast for just $2.75 with juice, tea or coffee, served between 07:00 and 11.30. What it lacks in quality it makes up for in quantity, with a steady supply of toast, croissants, omelettes, fried rice, fried eggs, tomatoes and fresh fruit. Start your day watching the world go by and being offered sunglasses for sale.

Near the Russian Market, Sisters All Day Breakfast Shop does exactly what it says on the sign, with pancakes from $2 and generous helpings of cake for $1. Also in the neighbourhood, navigate your way to the Mexican themed Alma Cafe for a breakfast burrito or huevos rancheros served with juice and a fake moustache for around $4. Lazing around and chatting is actively encouraged by the unlimited coffee refills and friendly service.

The prices won't give you a sinking feeling.

The prices won’t give you a sinking feeling.

Feeding off your change purse doesn’t mean you can’t frequent some of the posher establishments in town. Malis is known for ambient evening dining, but also does a steal of a breakfast. Settle yourself in the be-palmed and be-ponded garden and enjoy noodle soup, lort char (short fat noodles fried with beef, omelette and bean sprouts) or rice porridge for less than $4.

Bopha Phnom Penh Titanic Restaurant at the north end of riverside has also got in on the act, so you can start the day in style on the banks of the Tonle Sap. Options include Asian standards such as pho or rice porridge at the $3 mark. The set breakfast of $2.95 comes with baguette and jam, juice and coffee. Bag a table right by the river for the best views.

Once your breakfast adventure draws to a close, it’s time to consider what might be next. Winnie the Pooh has advice on that too. ‘It’s more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like “What about lunch?” ‘

Alma Cafe
#43A, Corner of Streets 123 and 454, Phnom Penh
T: (096) 438 6334
Breakfast served 07:00-14:00

Bopha Phnom Penh Titanic Restaurant
Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh
Breakfast served 06:00-10:30

Malis Restaurant
136 Norodom Boulevard, Phnom Penh
T: (023) 221022
Breakfast served 06:00-10:00

Mekong River
Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh
Breakfast served 07:00-11.30

Sisters All Day Breakfast Shop
26B Street 446, Phsar Toul Tom Poung, Phnom Penh
T: 012 918244
Breakfast served all day

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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