No name but good
Norodom 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 stools and metal tables crammed full of young Cambodians in search of cheap and delicious food. If you’re an adventurous eater in search of a different street food experience, stop by and grab yourself a seat.
English is not generally spoken here, but that doesn’t matter as the food available is on display and cooking as you walk in. Point and choose from deep fried frogs in batter, beef balls, barbecued chicken wings and baked eggs. And please do choose the baked eggs — these little porcelain dishes of eggy goodness are baked in a wire contraption over an open fire and are absolutely delicious. There’s also the option of duck foetus eggs and steamed cockles, which are a bit more of an acquired taste. Whatever you order is likely to be accompanied by a salad plate of cucumber, lime, sliced carrots and Khmer herbs, and a sauce made of chillies, garlic, lime, pepper and hoisin.
Due to its popularity, you’ll probably find yourself sharing a table with a group of friends or a young couple on a date. Shy smiles and practising a bit of their English and your Khmer is all part of the fun. Foreigners are a bit of a novelty here and it’s easy to imagine yourself back in the early 1990s, when Phnom Penh streets were a little more rough and ready, without KFC or air-con coffee chains. It’s surely only a matter of time before the land value of this plot, or just possibly its architecture, means this little dining oasis is no more.
Our dinner of two frogs, one plate of beef balls, two baked eggs and a bottle of water came in at 18,000 riel, less than $5. For the atmosphere and escapism, it was worth every note.
By Abigail Gilbert
Last updated on 19th September, 2014.