A last morning in Siem Reap. We largely spent our time plotting next moves. To compensate for a rushed timeline in Laos, we’d decided to slow down in Cambodia. But as each action has a reaction, this meant Vietnam would be the dream deferred. Most of our family and friends seemed most curious about Vietnam, and our detour is not just about being dissidents. It is quite likely we will come back to Asia and be able to dedicate more than 5 days to Vietnam. Plus, our Chiang Mai experience of pollution in towns with limited public transport made us wonder whether Ho Chi Minh/Saigon will be less hectic by 2018 when a metro will theoretically be functioning.
But on to food. Our farewell Siem Reap lunch was at the booked-up Haven Restaurant. Known as a training ground for future chefs, wait staff and support staff, Haven would make Chef Ramsey proud. In addition to being a well-oiled machine, the food was delicious. Cambodian food has been a highlight, and we have done a lot of comparison shopping of Fish Amok and Beef Lok Lak. We’ve seldom been disappointed. Just in case you are in the area or looking to get inspired:
That said, arriving in the big city of Phnom Penh, we diversified our cuisine intake. When the Vietnamese banh mi sandwich shop had run out of baguettes, we moved on to Mexican. Sadly, the chef’s motorcycle also moved on while we were eating, which lead our waiter to give caution about dangers of the big city. So we fled to the fringe of the city proper and to what seems to be T’s favorite beer here – Kingdom Pilsener. Seemed the brewery conveniently sponsored a First Friday beer and burger night. We and every Peace Corps volunteer in town were in! Turns out that chef Mike is a Cambodian who took refuge in L.A. and now maybe 30 years later has returned to Phnom Penh with his improved version of In-n-Out burger. A refugee from the Khmer Rouge, then a postal worker in L.A., and now a burger entrepreneur running two restaurants in Phnom Penh. This city was intriguing from night one.
And the beer was good 🙂