Penne 4 Your Thoughts

Penne Cole's thoughts on food, travel and more

A foodie’s guide to Cambodia

The Happy Gwailo usually has to work over the Christmas / New Year period so we are typically stuck at home for the holidays. However, this year, he managed to get some time off, so we planned an impromptu trip to Cambodia. Of course, as any good foodie knows, travelling is as much about food as it is about the views/people/places. So here’s a guide to my favourite restaurants and cafes in Cambodia.

Most Instagram Friendly Meal in Cambodia

IMG_2059 (2).jpg

Green mango salad @ Friends the Restaurant, Phnom Penh

If the simple beauty of this green mango salad from Friends the Restaurant in Phnom Penh isn’t enough to tempt you, rest assured that it tastes as good as it looks. For meat lovers, never fear – this tangy salad comes with slices of crispy pork belly as well. The restaurant is also a social enterprise, aiming to give former street children a leg up. Friends is located conveniently close to the Royal Palace and the National Museum, making it the perfect place to refuel. And while you’re at it, why not pamper yourself with a foot massage at just $5 for half an hour?

Best local food in Cambodia

IMG_2116 (2)

Cosy outdoor seating area @ About the World in Battambang

About the World is a family-run restaurant in Battambang, and is one of the best restaurants in Battambang, if not Cambodia. The owner is very friendly and his four year old son is cheeky and insists on us playing dinosaurs with him while we wait for our food – not that it’s a long wait.  The restaurant is cosy, and almost feels like we’re dining in the owners’ home.

IMG_2119 (2).jpg

Amok @ About the World in Battambang

The star of the meal is the vegetarian amok and it’s hands down my favourite dish in Cambodia. Amok is a wonderfully complex Cambodian curry. Like many dishes in Cambodia, this one is flavoured with prahok, a fermented fish paste that gives the curry a beautiful saltiness and depth. Fiery chilli is tempered by coconut milk and finely slivered kaffir lime leaves provide a citrusy note that lifts the whole dish. I’ve ordered this dish at several other restaurants but About the World is definitely the best.

Best restaurant for dining with the locals

Grilled meats @ Sovanna Restaurant Branch II in Phnom Penh

As a tourist in Cambodia, you will inevitably eat at places frequented by tourists. Googling ‘best local food in [pick your city]’ yields some great results, but the very fact that you’re Googling it means that you’ll end up with a restaurant that’s put in the effort to appear on Google / Tripadviser / Lonely Planet’s lists.

I’m not sure how we came across Sovanna, but when we arrived, the place was packed with locals with not a tourist in sight – a great sign. The barbeque was going at the front of the restaurant and you could choose from a variety of different cuts of meat. The locals make a sauce out of lime juice, soy sauce, garlic and chilli. Once your meat arrives, simply dip and enjoy. We ordered the spicy chicken, which was amazing – tender and juicy and very fiery. For us, it was the best bbq in Cambodia. The spare ribs were ok, but not much meat on the bone. Don’t order the beef – local beef is very tough.

A few words of caution – wait times for the grilled meats can be long as it’s a big restaurant and the grill is relatively small. Make sure you order some vegetables or noodles to tide you over until your meat arrives.

If the waitress places a heap of drinks on your table that you didn’t order, don’t worry. They will only charge you for what you’ve drunk at the end of the meal.

This post was inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Variations on a Theme.

See Part 2 for more best restaurants in Cambodia.

Practical Details

Friends the Restaurant

#215, Street 13, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

(Close to the Royal Palace and the National Museum

Opens daily 11am – 11pm


About the World

Rd no. 2.5, Krong Battambang, Cambodia

(Opposite the Lonely Tree Cafe)

Opens daily 9am – 10pm


Sovanna Restaurant Branch II

Abdul Carime St (21), Phnom Penh

Opens daily 4 – 10pm


4 comments on “A foodie’s guide to Cambodia

  1. Hannah (BitterSweet)
    January 27, 2018

    Your brief guide reads like the trip of edible dreams. I hope I might get a chance to visit cambodia, sooner or later, but preferably sooner! Talk about a serious case of wanderlust.

    • Penne Cole
      January 28, 2018

      Thanks Hannah 🙂 It’s definitely worth visiting but if you’re like me and you prefer to get a feel for the country rather than stay in tourist town, then try to spend more time outside Siem Reap.

  2. Pingback: Variations on a Theme – Lamp Lines – What's (in) the picture?

  3. Pingback: A foodie’s guide to Cambodia (Part 2) | Penne 4 Your Thoughts

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on January 27, 2018 by in Asia, Cambodia, Food, Photography, Restaurant reviews, Travel, Weekly Photo Challenge and tagged , , , , .

Follow me on Twitter

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,956 other subscribers

Blogs I Follow

Dr. Eric Perry’s Coaching Blog

Motivate | Inspire | Uplift

Eye For A Pic

Eye Catching Photography

The ancient eavesdropper

Nature's nuances in a nutshell

Please Pass the Recipe

sharing recipes from one generation to the next

Autumn beats

The beats to my life


exploring the world

%d bloggers like this: