Hi guys! I haven't blogged in a few days so I thought I could share with you my experience at a restaurant located in Lyon's Chinatown. One evening I really wanted to eat Asian but didn't want to have bo bun and pho again. So the boyfriend and I went to Phnom Pich because of reviews I have read but also because whenever I walked by it the Khmer letters would call out to me. Unfortunately for me I did not grow up eating much Cambodian food (mostly Vietnamese). I only had traditional Cambodian food when we had family gatherings and my grandmother would cook. Most of the time she didn't though because she was kind of lazy.
Finding a restaurant that serves exclusively Cambodian food is very hard. First off, it's a cuisine that has been influenced for a few generations now by Laotian, Vietnamese and Thai cuisine. I would say if you have had Laotian dishes before, it's very similar. Second, not many people know about Cambodian food and would be ready to dig into totally different flavors. So to make sure the restaurant is still up and running and that whoever sits down finds something that suits their taste buds they have to incorporate some classics that are, obviously, not Cambodian, such as General Tao chicken, pad thai, even sometimes pho. But I don't think I'd eat pho in a restaurant that isn't specialized in pho. So this was the case with this place (and with any other Cambodian restaurant I have tried). But anyways. Time for pictures and food!
So we sat down in a rather small place (if you have been to La Jonque d'Or before it's about the third of it) and a young man greeted us and handed us two copies of the menu. We decided to order some beer for the heck of it. Unfortunately they didn't have any Angkor beer left so we went for the Cambodia. It's basically what I call a summer beer, light and watery. It was okay, considering the fact that Asians are not exactly experts in brewing beer.
As an entrée we ordered a Cambodian salad (for which I do not remember the name). It was kind of the same as plea sach ko (marinated beef salad) but it's a marinated duck salad. The principles are also the same for larb (Laotian beef salad) but the seasonings are different.
This one was served with sliced carrots and cucumbers. The marinade consisted of mint, onions, dried shallots, lime, chili peppers, fish sauce, and lemongrass. It was very delicious on its own and perfect for two persons.
Unfortunately for me they didn't have chha mi (Cambodian fried noodles) on the menu so I went for a Phnom Penh soup. The boyfriend decided to order the Special Phnom Penh soup.
Phnom Penh soup is very similar to pho : savory clear broth with meat and rice noodles. Just like pho, there isn't just one recipe and the meat you put in there depends on your tastes. At this place, the Phnom Penh soup includes shrimp, squid, Vietnamese ham (cha lua), another kind of ham, and cooked beef.
The Special Phnom Penh soup has the same meats plus blood sausage. Maybe there was something else but I did not write down what it was. This is seriously something I need to work on.
Phnom Penh soup requires the use of shrimp and squid for the broth, why is why it is clear and has this delicious seafood flavor. It was quite a hearty meal (that we drenched in sriracha because we're masochists) and I found the flavors complimented well each other and were well balanced. Unfortunately I cannot say whether it is suitable for 100% Cambodian taste buds or not but it was suitable for my difficult Asian-ish taste buds.
The ambiance was overall very calm until a group of more than ten people came in. You can tell it's a family business not only by the looks of the place but because the family was eating at the table closest to the kitchen and the mama was doing all the cooking. And yes, there are pictures of the family baby all over the place.
So should you give Phnom Pich a try? I think if you would like to avoid the big places but still have something good and simple you should go. The prices are reasonable and the staff is lovely. I have to admit I wish there were more actual Cambodian items on the menu but it's already hard enough to find a place that actually serves Cambodian food.
Until next time!