Though Khmer cuisine is not yet as famous as Thai dishes, it is actually as tasty as Thai cuisine, though less spicy (less chili), and somehow they are also quite different to their neighbor’s dishes in the east, Vietnam.
Foreign influences also shape a few Khmer dishes, such as from China, France, India, Java, Vietnam and so on. Ancient Javanese and Indian influences are noted in a booklet named “Cambodia on a Plate”, which is quoted from a Khmer Chef Nadsa de Monteiro, “From India, by way of Java.”
Khmer cuisine uses many spices, such as garlic, ginger, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, shallot, tamarind, turmeric, sometimes chili, and so forth. One of its famous dishes is Amok, which is (commonly) steamed fish in a mix of spices named Kroeung (garlic, ginger, lemongrass, turmeric, sometimes chili, etc) and coconut milk served in banana leaves. Amok can also be modified with tofu to cater for vegetarians. As with most countries in Asia, Khmer people also habitually eat their main dishes with steamed rice (bai).
Another favourite Khmer dish is Lok Lak (stir fried beef). This tasty Lok Lak is believed to have originated from Vietnam and it is usually served with a mix of fresh vegetables, such as cucumbers, lettuce, and so on. It is served with a small sauce of lime juice mixed with black pepper and salt.
Cambodians also have dishes combining meat and fresh fruits, such as Cha Trie Cheimouy Sway, a fried fish with mango (see photos below).
Local dishes usually cost around 5,000 to 10,000 Riel, depending on the type of restaurant.
French influence in Khmer cuisine can be observed from availability of the French bread, baguette, in many food stalls.
For visitors who like to stick with their own cuisine, it should not be a problem for them, since there are plenty of restaurants that serve other Asian cuisines, western dishes and vegetarian food. There are also plenty local fast food restaurants, which sell donuts, pizza, and so on. As a reference, a small pizza (for one person) costs around US$ 3.
Cambodians also have local snacks or desserts, such as grilled banana or locally called Chak (/ché eek/) Ang, sticky rice with coconut milk, plenty of tropical fruits like coconut (dwong), durian (thoo-rian), mango (sway), papaya (le-hong) and so on.
There are plenty of well known soft drinks in Cambodia, as well as imported beers. Local beers available in the market are Angkor and Bayon. Visitors should not have any problems finding bottled water, as they are also easily purchased.
Khmer coffee is also parts of locals' favourite drinks, be it black or with condensed milk. Some foreign visitors might like the taste and some might not.
prices for reference: sugar cane 1,000 Riel, a can of soft drink US$ 1, local coffee around 4,000 Riel or 2,500 Riel at "local style" restaurants, beer around 5,000 Riel, and a small bottle of mineral water around 2000 Riel, depending on where you buy them.
Toup Aha Toch Toch (Toup)
Apart from good standard local restaurants, you will also find many local-style small street hawkers (food stalls), called Toup Aha Toch Toch. These are places where you will find “the real prices” of food and these prices are very affordable to most Cambodians, though cleanliness and hygiene may not be the same as “your standards”. Hence, you should carefully judge these factors before deciding to order and eat.
Please take note that sometimes pictures make food look delicious but you might not like it, or the other way around...
|Cha Trie Cheimouy Sway||Chak Ang|
|Chrok Kkway (grilled pork)||Cha Kong Kep Geich Chrok (fried frog & pork)|
|Various local dishes|
|Baiy Chha (Khmer fried rice)||Lok Lak and steam rice|
|Beef with Prahoc (fish paste) sauce||Khmer fish soup|