After only half a day in Cambodia, you’ll remark the extreme contrast between poor people and buildings or between underprivileged markets and top-notch restaurants. This reality is specific to many parts of Asia, from Pakistan to Hong Kong, from Buthan to Malaysia, and it is not much different in Cambodia.
In other words, in Phnom Penh you can taste such a large variety of foods that you won’t be able to cover it, not even during a long stay. Such diversity is both appealing and overwhelming.
Top-Class Traditional Cuisines
Most other cities and towns in Cambodia, except for Siem Reap, have a rather limited offer when it comes to traditional cuisines (mostly Sino-Khmer, French, Thai, and Vietnamese). It’s not the case of Phnom Penh. You can basically try almost every important cuisine, although we’ve noticed that they don’t put a special stress on African dishes. Here’s a fast insight:
- Bai Thong Restaurant – For its interesting combination of Thai and Japanese foods.
- Sam Doo Restaurant – For its authentic Khmer tastes.
- Monsoon Restaurant – For its interpretation of Nepalese and Indian dishes.
- Luna d’Autumno – For the elegant manner of integrating Italian food in the Cambodian context.
- Riverside Restaurant – For its International style merged into various traditional Cambodian dishes.
- La Residence – For the way they have preserved the colonial spirit.
International and Fusion à la Légère
On the other side, when visiting Cambodia on a budget you shouldn’t be pulled back by eating in Phnom Penh. Most of the budget restaurant you will find are decent, to say the least. Some even feature local or house specialties. Most of them are focused on fish, as it is one of the most important food resources in the country.
You’ll soon notice that in Cambodia both International and Fusion actually mean a mixture of local and truly international dishes. Apart from the main fast-food chains, local eateries try to find a balance between classic and exotic. And most of them do. This is the reason why the list below is merely a guiding set of locations and options:
- Setsara Thai Restaurant – Try their French dishes along with traditional Thai food.
- Tamarind Bar – Great if you’re interested in exotic tapas in a hassle-free setting.
- Mekong River Restaurant – Good prices and a very long menu to choose from.
- Garden Center Café – Large portions and good taste overall.
- Yumi Restaurant – One of the most appealing Japanese restaurants in Phnom Penh. Great Japanese tapas and seafood salads.
- Comme à la maison – They have some amazing salads for you to choose from.
- Blue Cat – Tranquil and full of charm. A place where you can have a nice dinner after a full day out.
- The Empire – Not particularly cheap, but the traditional Khmer amok is worth the money.
- The Shop – One of the best places in town for a good sandwich. Fresh and remarkably well-balanced dishes.
- Bayon Market – A specific Cambodian place where you can have a snack anytime during the day.
- Brown Coffee and Bakery – A Cambodian bakery with a European twist.