We have spent several months in Phnom Penh, working for an NGO and have sampled the cuisine of many great (and not too good) restaurants. Like many volunteers and ex-pats in the city we can often be found typing away on our computers in an air conditioned cafe with a frappé and sandwich beside us. So here we have compiled a short list of some of our favourite reasonably priced spots in the city.
1. Happy Patch
This has become a favourite haunt of ours, in the heart of BKK1 on the corner of 62 and 288, a big ex-pat area of the city. We have been to Happy Patch countless times and never had a bad meal. The have a much smaller menu than many restaurants in Asia, so what they do they do well. Sandwiches, salads and burgers are all great, but the real selling point at the moment is the local specialities. Here you get a tasty dish such as fish amok or pad Thai, with a beer or soft drink included for $3.95. The staff are all friendly, and every time we leave they say “see you tomorrow” (which they usually do).
We took one of the NFO university students out for dinner and he brought one of his non-English speaking friends with him, and it was a funny experience. This place is on the riverside, near street 172 and the backpacker area. It has a massive menu of Western and Khmer cuisine, and you can get a decent dinner for $3-5. Our Cambodian friends both got Western dishes and we got Asian food, and we all got serious food envy. It was pouring down and quite cold (for Cambodia) and one of the boys got a salad, very disappointing for him when he was imaging it to be a hot vegetable dish! Our NFO friend got a gorgeous looking chicken dish with onions and gravy, but was very confused and put off by the bacon on it – which to us looked completely delicious.
3. Nike’s Pizza
This place is tucked away on street 282 between Monivong blvd and street 63. It is a family run place with the massive menu you expect when dining in local restaurants in Cambodia. The focus in on Italian food, but the burgers are great and the lasagne extra cheesy. Beer at 50 cents a pop is great too, especially in BKK1.
Although Artillery is a little pricey for backpackers, it’s great when you feel like you need a break from fat food. It occupies a lovely little spot on street 278 between 63 and 57. The interior is pretty cool, with murals on the walls and tables made from reclaimed wood. The focus is on healthy, organic and raw food so the menu contains a lot of salads, sandwiches with artisan breads and beautiful falafel and meze. Last time we visited however they broke our hearts: they had run out of humus. Prices from $4.
5. The Russian Market
Ok, so there’s no wifi, the food is pretty rustic and it’s more street food than restaurant, but some of the best food in Cambodia can be found in the middle of the Russian market. From flavoursome pork and rice dishes to refreshing mango shakes, the market has it all on offer.
6. 88 Backpackers
Situated on 88 street this friendly hostel serves up some delicious sandwiches and burgers. The added bonus of this place is they have a pool in their bar area that customers can use. Though you should bare in mind that old wandering wives tale about not eating before going swimming!
7. The Laughing Fat Man
This little shop front restaurant on street 172 is in the heart of backpacker territory. The Laughing Fat Man serves up all the usual backpacker favourites and also has a great breakfast menu including Weetabix and PG Tips!