Rice. Honestly, I should probably just stop my post right there. Rice is so integral to what it means to be Cambodian, that rather than greeting each other with the traditional hello, people often ask, “Tao neak nyam bai te?” – “Have you eaten rice today?” Thankfully, Khmer cuisine is so much more than just rice.
Prepared by our amazing in-house cooks, meals in the center are to die for. Literally, I fell running down the stairs so I could get to the front of the line (it was worth it). From tempura onion-rings and sweet potatoes to Amok trai, Cambodian food has far exceeded my expectations. So far, my personal favorites include a mee (yellow noodle) dish that is reminiscent of a Khmer ramen, stir-fried Water Convolvulus (Morning Glory) with onion, barbecued chicken and pork, sweet and sour fish, and finally, sticky rice with sliced mango and sweet coconut sauce. Every ingredient is fresh and fragrant.
However, great food isn’t just restricted to the center. The street food is bonkers delicious (just make sure it’s cooked in front of you!). In Phnom Kulen, we got sweet sticky-rice (yum) wrapped in biodegradable banana leaves for 50 cents a pop (25 for locals), and sweet Khmer sausage on a stick that was almost maple syrup-y. Walking down the street through rice patties after an interview session in Jriu, we got scoops of taro and coconut ice cream in a sesame cone with peanuts and sweetened condensed milk drizzled on top.
All in all, the food so far has been absolutely incredible and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead as we embark on our Northern and Southern tours!