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Phnom Penh (Vancouver, Cambodian/Vietnamese, pictures)

fmed Mar 26, 2008 02:05 PM

I had lunch with a couple of my colleagues at one of my favorite ethnic spots - Phnom Penh in Chinatown. They are not...ahem...the most adventurous of all eaters so I tried to play it safe with my order. To be honest, I didn't order well.The food was great (IMO), but it didn't form a successful gestalt...so my friends left unimpressed. Oh well...more for me.

The order comprised of an "amuse bouche" of a light pork bone broth (mine had lots of marrow. Deeelish); the Garlic Chicken Wings, Green Papaya Salad with Dried Pork, Black Pepper Squid, and Bahn Xeo (Vietnamese crepe). (For some reason, my celphone didn't save one of the pictures - their famous chicken wings).

Phnom Penh is considerably pricier than the typical Vietnamese restaurant...so be prepared...mains run between $13 to $16.

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  1. fmed RE: fmed Mar 26, 2008 02:06 PM


    ...to finish...Iced Coffee, of course.

    6 Replies
    1. re: fmed
      Sam Salmon RE: fmed Mar 26, 2008 05:42 PM

      Squid looks yummee!

      1. re: Sam Salmon
        fmed RE: Sam Salmon Mar 26, 2008 05:50 PM

        Yes it was! Best dish of the meal. Tender with just a bit of al dente crunch. The slightly sweet black pepper sauce was just perfect.

        1. re: fmed
          grayelf RE: fmed Mar 26, 2008 08:23 PM

          The first time I went to PP we had the same experience: not so adventurous dining companions and didn't order quite right. That put us off for a while but we recently went back and had a couple of super successful meals that included the wings and squid, a moo moo shake or two, the papaya salad, a seasonal dish of pumpkin flowers that was just a show stopper and one noodle dish that was just okay, plus a few other items that escape me. Will definitely be back for more as it is walking distance from bro's house...

          BTW there was a crazy lookin' crepey eggy thing that I think had oysters on it last time that EVERYBODY seemed to be ordering. It had a whole whack of fresh cilantro on top and smelled wonderful. Does anyone know what I'm talking about?

          1. re: grayelf
            fmed RE: grayelf Mar 26, 2008 08:35 PM

            The oyster pancakes? I've never had it - but it does look great. I've had the pumpkin flowers - fantastic.

            1. re: fmed
              grayelf RE: fmed Mar 31, 2008 06:17 PM

              I think that must be the one. I am a dyed-in-wool oysta hata and I may have to try it :-).

              I may also have to grow pumpkins this year just to make that dish. If I understood the waitron correctly, they actually import them which makes sense as it would be hard to come by pumpkin flowers in BC at this time of year. So not very environmentally friendly but oh so good. Hope they still have them when we go next...

              1. re: grayelf
                fmed RE: grayelf Mar 31, 2008 07:51 PM

                Zucchini blossoms should work just as well - (you get less zucchini that way...it's a win win!)

    2. dani_k RE: fmed Mar 31, 2008 08:55 AM

      thanks for posting this! we went here last time we were in van and i couldnt remember the name. i was finally able to demonstrate to my husband why i whine about (imo) sub-par viet food. he was finally able to understand!

      1. jennjen18 RE: fmed Apr 13, 2009 08:38 PM

        Are there veggie options here? Not familiar with the restaurant, and I'd be going with a veggie-r... would they accomodate, dyou think?

        1 Reply
        1. re: jennjen18
          fmed RE: jennjen18 Apr 13, 2009 09:16 PM

          I have never tried to order vegetarian there....I'm sure they will accommodate. The papaya salad can probably be ordered without the dried pork and shrimp, etc. The squash blossoms can probably be ordered vege too....and perhaps the Bahn Xeo.

          Keep in mind that much of signature flavours of this cuisine come from fish sauce and other fermented seafood products...if that is concern to you.

        2. smel RE: fmed Apr 14, 2009 10:17 AM

          Can't get enough of the butter beef (raw beef in butter, cilantro sauce), and the garlic squid (we call it crack squid). I think the squid is much better than the chicken wings. Very tender and flavorful. Good texture. Rated one of the 100 things to eat before you die in Vancouver.

          1. busterbrown RE: fmed Apr 15, 2009 12:12 PM

            i second the rec by SMEL, try the garlic squid..........same as the wings and the dip to boot....so good, and the butter beef and the noodle dish #1 i think, with the beef , ground pork, and liver very nice indeed, i miss that place, great pics by the way FMED

            4 Replies
            1. re: busterbrown
              fmed RE: busterbrown Apr 15, 2009 02:48 PM

              I have a few newer ones here:

              1. re: fmed
                busterbrown RE: fmed Apr 15, 2009 02:59 PM

                o man that butter beef is soooo good. would die to find out the recipe......looks like they put the plate in the oven beforehand to cook the beef like that......or dare i say the nuker

                1. re: busterbrown
                  fmed RE: busterbrown Apr 15, 2009 03:08 PM

                  I think they cook it like a tataki/carpaccio - a roast is pan seared then put in the oven till rare...or blanched in boiling water. Then (like in a carpaccio) they freeze it partially to simplify thin-slicing.

                  The sauce tastes to me like a mixture of soya, fish sauce, lime, sugar...but I don't think it contains butter despite the name. The topping is cilantro, garlic, birds eye chilies, and fried shallots. I bet a regular rare roast beef will work well.

                  Google "Bo Tai Chanh" - the Vietnamese name for this dish.

                  1. re: fmed
                    busterbrown RE: fmed Apr 18, 2009 05:23 PM

                    wow thanks.......i was really looking for a while what the real name was thats great.... the reason i say that it might be cooked those ways is because sometimes the plate comes out and the meat is cooked starting at the outside of the plate and working its way in, basically the middle part of the plate is rare and the edges are grey........a bit odd to me, but none the less a must have when there. thanx again

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