Phnom Penh is often overlooked by many tourists as they head up to Siem Reap to see the main attractions, but the capital of Cambodia truly has some gems to offer and one of them is excellent food. In Phnom Penh, you can find some of the greatest restaurants, eateries and dining experiences that avoid the onslaught of tourists and appeal to everyone’s taste buds and dietary needs. If you’re after great street food, vegetarian and vegan options or a taste of home, Phnom Penh delivers whether you’re on a tight budget or if you’re willing to splash the cash. You can expect to pay from 2,000 KHR (0.50 USD) to well into 120,000 KHR (near to 30 USD and up) for great food depending on your appetite and budget. Here are the top places to go in Phnom Penh for great food at decent prices.
Dumplings & tofu for less than a fiver
Chinese Noodle House on Preah Monivong Blvd., one of the main streets in the city, is a favourite for both locals and expats, serving dumplings for 6,000 KHR (1.50 USD), thick noodles made in front of you and tofu to die for. With the minimum cost of 6,000 KHR (1.50 USD) and the maximum being 12,000 KHR (3 USD) this is definitely for those that want to fill their bellies on a budget with some of the most delicious plates of Chinese food in Phnom Penh.
The best time to go is for a late lunch as to avoid the queues of people that try to get their fix in the evenings, but if you’re heading out for some evening food then head over to Noodle Garden on Riverside, just next to the Night Market. A little bit more pricey by a few dollars, Noodle Garden serves Dim Sum (steamed or fried snacks, usually with meat stuffings), hot pot dishes and curries for less than 20,000 KHR (5 USD) that’ll fill you up for eternity. With both options being cheap and cheerful, they’re ideal for families, friends and groups of people that are after an easy option for dinner (and hey, who doesn’t like Chinese food?).
Vegan & vegetarian options even the carnivore can't refuse
Vegetarian and vegan places in the city have some of the nicest selection of foods in the city, with Khmer and Western options to choose from. Vitking House near the Olympic Stadium serves burgers, rice and noodle concoctions using vegetarian “meat” and cost around 12,000 KHR (3 USD) to order, and there are also various Vietnamese Vegetarian Soup restaurants dotted around near Mao Tse Toung Blvd. and the Olympic Stadium costing no more than 20,000 KHR (5 USD).
If you’re after some Western flavours, however, there is ARTillery, Farm To Table and Backyard Café, which all produce similar vegetarian and vegan cuisine, and some meat dishes thrown in for good measure. Top bites include the falafel and hummus share plate at ARTillery, the beetroot veggie burger from Farm To Table and the blueberry pancakes and mango smoothie combo at Backyard Café. Price-wise, these three restaurants are a little bit more expensive, averaging around 40,000 KHR (10 USD) for your meal and a decent drink from the menu.
Go authentic with the yummiest Khmer food
Being in Cambodia, you’re never far away from the locals’ favourite delicacies. Street food is aplenty, with chopped mango and other unnamed fruits with the spicy salt mixture, skewers of chicken and meatballs, sticky rice, cockles (be mindful of ordering from a restuarant rather than street stalls to avoid hygiene issues), duck fetuses, Khmer waffles and coconut ice cream to name a few.
However, if you’re after something to fill you up for a few hours, your best bet is to head to one of the many markets in the city. Toul Tom Poung Market serves many noodle soup variations for as little as 3000 KHR (0.75 USD), Orussey Market has an entire floor dedicated to solving your hunger pangs, and Central Market is teeming with food both fresh for you to take home and cook or to munch on under the plastic covers.
Phnom Penh also has its fair share of BBQ places with all of them being just as good as the next; expat favourites tend to be ABC BBQ and Sovanna BBQ, each costing around 20,000 KHR (5 USD) per person depending on how hungry you are. Finally, there’s the wide variety of Khmer desserts made mainly with coconut, pumpkin or tapioca and small cakes sometimes folded with banana leaves, usually being the most colourful items on the plate. Each Khmer dessert has a similar flavour, but the pumpkin balls are incredibly moreish.
Taste all four corners of the world in Cambodia's underrated capital
Phnom Penh is overlooked more often than not, but this city boasts some of the best cuisines in the country where you can experience not only Western and Khmer food, but Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indian, Italian and so many more. The hidden gems of Cambodia’s food world are discovered only in Phnom Penh with great food at great prices to suit both the backpacker budget and for those that can spend much more. What’s more is that free tea is given to most eateries in Cambodia, meaning you can save even more sipping on hot/ice tea taking in amazing food that didn’t break the bank. You’re undeniably spoilt for choice no matter what you fancy for breakfast, lunch or dinner in Phnom Penh.
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