This entry is a bit delayed due to the lack of inspiration I am feeling at the moment. I want to write something eloquent, expressive, relevant, and worthwhile about this country, but most of what I’m learning cannot be shared with you here: my job working on the anti-corruption project is settled in, but the nature of my work is mostly confidential. It’s frustrating because the job is such a big part of my life, but hopefully I’ll find something else that I want to write about.
This entry is also delayed because, as I’ve forgotten, this is a depressing place to live and I want to write deep blog entries while not being too cynical. It’s a difficult balance to strike here as it is easy to lose all traces of hope whenever I search for meaning. I’m hoping to come up with a solid, non-work-related topic soon, one that will help educate my readers on this country while not being overly-depressing.
So onto the inconsequential blog entry that I have prepared for you:
Last weekend my roommate Art and I took a food tour around the city. Unfortunately, I did not diligently document the food journey with pictures (I’m getting a camera phone this weekend so that problem should be solved soon.), but I provide pictures where they are available. Art made a map of the city with some of the best restaurants and we went on a mission to eat at all of them. Our rating system: how many more times we’ll eat there by the end of this summer.
Dinner: Chinese Noodle Restaurant. Over this meal, we kicked off our tour and named it The Journey of a Thousand Noodles after the delicious meal we ate. Thick, hand-rolled noodles and greasy chucks of duck in a soup with a side of green beans and mushrooms saturated in oil. The green beans have somehow been infused with the taste of garlic. The smell of the broth reminded me of my mom’s chicken soup from home. $3/person. Rating: 10+ more times (I may have already gone there two…or three…more times this week.)
Chinese noodles with duck
Breakfast: Street food. Steamed rice, thin slices of grilled marinated pork, a fried egg, and pickled vegetables all mixed together. $0.75/person. Rating: 30+ more times. This is my every-day breakfast on the way to work.
Lunch: Art and I split ways on this one, but I went to Magnolia Restaurant with my friend and co-worker Liza. Special of grilled squid and peppercorns, rice, soup with pork meatballs, and fried green beans with red peppers. $3/person. Rating: 10 more times. It’s super close to my work and house, and it’s a great lunch special!
Dinner: Sovana Restaurant. Grilled steak, chicken wings, stir-fried vegetables, Anchor beer, salted and sugared peanuts, and fresh vegetables for dipping in Khmer gravy. $7/person. Rating: 5 more times. Best steak in the city, and we still have to try the seafood.
Breakfast: 240 Vietnamese. Art made a huge mistake and ordered an omelet, but after the waiter placed the wimpy-looking thing in front of him, he quickly corrected his mistake and ordered Vietnamese pho. Roasted chicken and flat egg noodles in broth with a large plate of vegetables on the side. Dump the vegetables in the broth with the chicken and noodles and voila, delicious breakfast soup. Vietnamese coffee on the side, which is made by $3/person. Rating: 2 more times. The place wasn’t exactly unique–lots of pho places are all around the city.
Snack: Street food. A deep-fried dough ball with a sweet, mashed-up bean concoction inside. $0.25/each. Rating: 10 more times. I don’t even care about the possible coronary.
Snack: Tedx. Coffee and cookies in between watching several speakers give presentations on “Ideas Worth Spreading.” See the website here: http://tedxphnompenh.com/
Lunch: The Shop. I got a chicken ravioli salad–raviolis with chicken, mushroom, and cream sauce inside over greens, and a banana, date, and molasses milkshake. Art got salad with slices of pork, sweet mustard dressing, and carrot soup on the side. Chocolate and coffee macaroons for dessert. $9/person. Rating: 2 more times (it’s delicious but a bit on the expensive side).
Snack: The Chocolate Shop. Dark chocolate with peppers inside. $1/piece. Rating: 2 more times.
Snack: Chinese Noodle Restaurant. Couldn’t stay away. Steamed dumplings. $1/person.
Dinner: Knyay. Red curry, fish amok, and curry soup with tofu, all with wild brown rice on the side. Cherry almond, coconut ginger, and orange dark chocolate ice cream for dessert. Oh, and carrot cake. $6/person. Rating: 3 more times.
Breakfast: Le Rit. An NGO/hostel restaurant. I ordered a unique eggplant, lemon, and mint concoction. It was literally the grossest, mushiest thing I have ever received at a restaurant. Couldn’t bring myself to physically eat it. Luckily we ordered some fresh spring rolls as a side and chicken satay (chicken on sticks with curry/peanut dipping sauce). $5/person. Rating: 0. Ew.
Chicken satay, always a safe choice.
Lunch: Tom Yum Kung Restaurant. The best Tom Yum in the city: sour and spicy soup with shrimp. $3/person. Rating: 2 more times. (PS: On the way to this restaurant, I got pulled over and had to bribe a cop with $10…More details on that later.)
Snack: Sunset Café. Ice-cold chai frappe. $1/person. Rating: 2 more times.
Dinner: Viva Mexican. Burritos made with fresh flour tortillas with beans, salsa, cilantro, veggies, and shredded pork with rice and sweet/spicy chicken wings on the side. $5/person. Rating: 3 more times. This was honestly the best Mexican food I have had in quite some time.
As you can see, the food here is amazing and diverse. I could go on and on and on about various things I’ve eaten over the past month, but I’ll just give you this small sample for now. And so our journey concluded with full bellies and contented curiosities.
I have a busy weekend ahead of me, and my next entry will be coming soon with details!