Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Another Tasty Lunch in Phnom Penh, at the Best for Everyone Khmer-Thai Restaurant

I did not learn until I arrived in Cambodia that the country's territory used to encompass parts of Vietnam and Thailand and that it sees itself as the originator of Thai food and culture. As a result, it is not uncommon to see restaurants featuring Khmer-Thai food.

A local Cambodian recommended that I try the Khmer-Thai Restaurant near the office. Who could resist a place whose tagline is "Best for Everyone?" I couldn't.

I walked inside that noticed immediately that the restaurant had a decidedly more upscale vibe than other places I had gone to for lunch. I expected the menu to reflect that observation, but I was pleasantly surprised.

While the price points generally were higher than at other local restaurants, they were still quite a number of items on the large menu for $5.00 and under.

It was divided into the usual sections: appetizers, soups, rice dishes, steamed dishes, and one-pot dishes. As I looked at the menu, the waiter brought a glass of tea that I had never tried before.

Pandan leaf tea is my new favorite tea! My introduction to pandan leaves was in Malaysia. Also known as screwpine leaves, they are often tied into a knot and put in stews and soups. And the extract is used in desserts. I bought a bottle of pandan extract when I was in Malaysia last year. I use it to flavor pancake batter.

I chose from the one-pot dish section, selecting stir-fried noodles with mixed seafood (squid and shrimp)and mixed vegetables (Chinese broccoli, carrots, young corn and mushrooms) in a soy bean paste sauce.

I was surprised at how generous the portion was as well as how inexpensive ($3.50) and flavorful the dish was. The sauce was not at all spicy, but really relied on the natural flavors of the vegetables, seafood and soy bean paste to make a tasty dish that was mild yet very, very good.

With such a successful dish, how could I pass on dessert? Apart from the usual suspects found on dessert menus in Phnom Penh, I came across a different one: fried bananas with pandan honey custard! If you recall from previous posts, I'm a pandan (also known as screwpine leaves leaf fan. My curiosity about what a custard would taste like got the better of me and I ordered it.

Several minutes later, the waiter brought a generous portion of crisp yet tender bananas with a green concoction that was obviously the pandan honey custard. I was not totally sure how to eat it, so I poured the custard over the bananas.

The custard was very light and mildly scented by the pandan, and combined nicely with the bananas. It was too much and I couldn't finish it. But I tried!

While the service left something to be desired, I really had no complaints. By the end of the meal I had to agree that this restaurant really was best for everyone!


  1. Food envy... Pandan leaf tea sounds soooo goood. Drink some more for me too Eva! xx

  2. Hi Sonia,

    I have never had cold pandan leaf tea. It really was special! My local Asian market sells frozen pandan leaves. I'm going to try to recreate it at home. It was so refreshing and fragrant! Hope you're travels are continuing to go well. XO