For a small southern Cambodian town, Kampot has a surprisingly good selection of places to chow down. So when you’ve had enough of contemplating the river, or you’ve worked up an appetite crawling round caves, here’s our pick of some of the best eats in town.
Start your day with delicious coffee roasted on site and scrummy eggs benedict (US$5), bacon pancakes or banana bread (US$1.50) at Cafe Espresso. The homemade ethos extends to the cosy yet cool decor, with mismatched furniture and murals on flaky plaster walls.
Indulge in some leisurely people-watching over lunch at the family-run Penh Chet, which seats you at low wooden tables with a perfect view of the comings and goings around the Old Market. The hot sour soup with beef or fish packs a chilli flavoured punch for US$2.50 and marine lovers will be satisfied with the fried shrimp and green pepper ($2.50) or the seafood noodles (US$1.50).
If you’ve blown the daily budget on water-skiing, grab a plate of freshly pulled noodles (US$2) at the appropriately named Ecran Noodle Shop. Entertainment is provided by watching your dinner being twisted and stretched and turned into noodles before your very eyes. The US$2 dumplings, served boiled or fried, are also a filling meal that doesn’t empty your wallet. On the Old Bridge road, the fruit shake stands also rustle up well-priced bobo (rice porridge), fried noodles and alarmingly coloured but tasty Cambodian desserts.
For more sophisticated street-side eating, La Java Bleue expertly dishes up swordfish, steaks and barracuda (US$8-$11) from their nightly woodfired barbecue on a fairy-lit terrace. Finish off with flambe bananas, which chef Jean Claude fires up at your table. Most seating is a deux, but there’s room for bigger groups too.
No food round-up of Kampot would be complete without Rusty Keyhole, serving up sticky meaty ribs nightly to customers who overflow onto the pavement seating. If you’ve worked up a serious appetite, try the “Dinorib” plate for four people — owner Kristian provides a free dessert for any gluttons who can finish it by themselves. Other menu specials include barbecued barracuda fillet served with prawns and scallops, and succulent chicken with mushroom sauce and creamy mash. There’s an extensive list of foreign beers and pots of real tea to wash down your dinner. Reservations are strongly recommended, especially at weekends and holidays, when the scrum of carnivorous expats is intense.
Cafe Espresso: Around the corner from Epic Arts. Open 8am -5pm daily
Ecran Noodle Shop: north side of Old Market, Kampot. Closed Tuesdays.
La Java Bleue: Near Year 2000 roundabout, Kampot. T: (033) 667 6679
Penh Chet: south side of Old Market, Kampot.
Rusty Keyhole: River Rd, Kampot. Open daily.
By Abigail Gilbert
Last updated on 6th March, 2015.