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Siem Reap, Cambodia [pics]

Siem Reap, Cambodia [pics]
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  • Siem Reap, Cambodia [pics]

    Post #1 - January 11th, 2009, 10:43 am
    Post #1 - January 11th, 2009, 10:43 am Post #1 - January 11th, 2009, 10:43 am
    Today is my day to catch-up--I thought I'd add and update LTH posts I've been meaning to get too. During my August trip to Vietnam, I spent 3 days in Siem Reap, Cambodia--the site of the amazing Angkor ruins.
    We really enjoyed the Khmer food we had there. Cynthia had recommended the fish amok, a fish curry which is essentially the national dish. We tried several versions and really enjoyed them. The best, surprisingly, was at a little stand across from Ankgor Wat (the main religious structure).
    The setting was also a plus:
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    I forgot to get a picture of that one, but here is another version:
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    We also ate at Meric, the restaurant of the Hotel de la Paix. The food was excellent and the setting was spectacular. Unfortunately, my pictures of the restaurant itself didn't turn out. But they have a beautiful courtyard and you can eat on tables which are hanging platforms/swings (I get motion sickness so we passed on this). They were recently written up in the NY Times (for what it's worth).
    They have a seven-course Khmer tasting menu. Unfortunately, we had eaten a lot that day an the heat was a little overwhelming. We were unable to rally :oops: so we just ordered a la carte. Here are a few of the dishes we had.
    Pumpkin soup from Meric
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    Prawn dish from Meric
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  • Post #2 - January 11th, 2009, 8:16 pm
    Post #2 - January 11th, 2009, 8:16 pm Post #2 - January 11th, 2009, 8:16 pm
    Just stunning. If I every follow somebody globetrotting, it will be you.
  • Post #3 - January 12th, 2009, 3:23 pm
    Post #3 - January 12th, 2009, 3:23 pm Post #3 - January 12th, 2009, 3:23 pm
    Thanks for the update and photos, thaiobsessed. I loved Cambodia, and I'm glad to see it's still as beautiful as when I visited a few years ago.

    I'm also delighted that you enjoyed the fish amok. If you're interested, here's a recipe I cobbled together that replicates the version of amok that I liked best, out of the several I tried.

    http://worldsfare.wordpress.com/2008/04/26/fish-amok/
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #4 - January 19th, 2009, 8:39 am
    Post #4 - January 19th, 2009, 8:39 am Post #4 - January 19th, 2009, 8:39 am
    I was recently in Cambodia also, but have no pictures of the food that I ate. I'm not sure why, I guess I'll have to go back...

    I had a Khmer dish that was wonderfully it looked like your fish amok but it was with chicken. It was a little strange to see so much white colored food in one bowl but I really enjoyed it. I loved that I could get a dark stout beer in Cambodia.

    I have this picture too:

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    The Ancient Angkor area is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to.
  • Post #5 - October 27th, 2010, 7:12 pm
    Post #5 - October 27th, 2010, 7:12 pm Post #5 - October 27th, 2010, 7:12 pm
    Actually, I quite like the pictures thaiobsessed, and your report. I'm going to be in Siem Reap for 4 days and nights and I certainly plan on dining at Meric. But if anyone has other ideas of where to eat -- all recommendations are appreciated -- including those off the beaten path, I would love to hear them.

    And as far as places to stay, we're booked at the Hotel de la Paix, but I'm wondering if that's the best choice. It seems convenient to Pub St. and that sounds great for food and a few beers and markets, or does it? Le Meridien and Sofitel, on the other hand, are less expensive and very close to Angkor Wat, and I really don't know exactly the best base location. A/C and a nice pool for relaxing in the heat of the afternoon are desired. So if anyone has recommendations for places to stay, and any side trips once we get over-templed, I would love to hear those too.

    Feel free to pm me with hotel/side trip info if it's lengthy and you're scared to derail the thread.
  • Post #6 - October 27th, 2010, 9:57 pm
    Post #6 - October 27th, 2010, 9:57 pm Post #6 - October 27th, 2010, 9:57 pm
    I had a terrible time of eating in Cambodia...we began our trip in Thailand and finished it in Vietnam, perhaps my two favorite cuisines on the planet, I just didn't find a single thing that compared while in Siem Reap. I'm sure there is fantastic food out there, but after full days of temple crawling, I didn't have it in me to search for it.

    For side trips outside the main Angkor circuits, I'd suggest a day touring three of the further out sights...we did Banteay Srei, Kbal Spean and Beng Mealea, each were fantastic in their own way. Banteay Srei is like a little miniture Angkor...the climb up the mountain at Kbal Spean is tough, with lots of uneven ground, but the carvings in the riverbed at the top are specatular, but Beng Mealea was probably the highlight of our entire trip. It felt like something out of Indiana Jones...we approached the ruins, not having seen another foreigner for probably the last 30 minutes of our drive. A local sitting on a wall nearby pointed to a board spanning a trench and a hole in the wall where we could peak inside...sure, why not? Then, all of a sudden, he was leading us up and over walls, onto the roof and down into the courtyards...put your foot here, then hoist yourself up here...room after room, overrun with lush vegetation. With the exception of one or two wooden walkways on the interior, it appeared to be almost entirely untouched by the restoration or preservation teams hard at work in the sites closer to town. It was quite thrilling.

    Here's our Flickr set of the three temples discussed above.
  • Post #7 - October 28th, 2010, 6:52 am
    Post #7 - October 28th, 2010, 6:52 am Post #7 - October 28th, 2010, 6:52 am
    BR wrote:And as far as places to stay, we're booked at the Hotel de la Paix, but I'm wondering if that's the best choice.


    Hotel de la Paix was a splurge for us (though it's funny because it's about 2/3 of the price of a nice hotel in a big city in the US), but was hands-down my favorite hotel I've ever stayed at. Granted, I don't know anything about the other hotels on your list but I highly, highly recommend the de la Paix--just a really special place. Siem Reap was the first leg of our trip and we were pretty jet-lagged so we didn't eat much at Meric. I'm still sorry we didn't do the Khmer tasting menu.

    Edited to add Banteay srei was our favorite part of the Angkor complex (but get their early--it's small so you really feel it if there are a lot of other tourists). Our schedule was so off that we would get up at the crack of dawn (or before--only Angkor Wat is touristy at sunrise), take a tuk tuk to the ruins we had chosen for the day, then have a late breakfast, then back to the hotel for a nap and a swim, then back to the ruins in the late afternoon when it was a little cooler.
  • Post #8 - October 28th, 2010, 9:06 am
    Post #8 - October 28th, 2010, 9:06 am Post #8 - October 28th, 2010, 9:06 am
    thaiobsessed wrote:
    BR wrote:And as far as places to stay, we're booked at the Hotel de la Paix, but I'm wondering if that's the best choice.


    Hotel de la Paix was a splurge for us (though it's funny because it's about 2/3 of the price of a nice hotel in a big city in the US), but was hands-down my favorite hotel I've ever stayed at. Granted, I don't know anything about the other hotels on your list but I highly, highly recommend the de la Paix--just a really special place. Siem Reap was the first leg of our trip and we were pretty jet-lagged so we didn't eat much at Meric. I'm still sorry we didn't do the Khmer tasting menu.

    Edited to add Banteay srei was our favorite part of the Angkor complex (but get their early--it's small so you really feel it if there are a lot of other tourists). Our schedule was so off that we would get up at the crack of dawn (or before--only Angkor Wat is touristy at sunrise), take a tuk tuk to the ruins we had chosen for the day, then have a late breakfast, then back to the hotel for a nap and a swim, then back to the ruins in the late afternoon when it was a little cooler.


    I had many a drink at the Hotel de la Paix in numerous visits to Siem Reap (could never afford to stay there at the time) but never the pleasure of dinner. The setting is absolutely gorgeous, a strange but succesful mix of Art-Deco (the facade), modern lounge and barely kitchy S.E.A. colonial touches.

    Interestingly, I never felt that I ate well in Siem Reap. The best food, by far, I had in Cambodia was in Phnom Penh (as well as the coast - fresh peppercorn crab anyone??), where a variety of regional cooking styles as well as settings (from fancy restaurants to streek hawkers and market stalls) are available. I unfortunately never made it to Vietnam or Thailand, but my fairly well-defined pallete still considers Khmer cooking some of the finest I've tasted.

    Enjoy.

    Habibi
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #9 - October 28th, 2010, 6:39 pm
    Post #9 - October 28th, 2010, 6:39 pm Post #9 - October 28th, 2010, 6:39 pm
    Thank you so much for your responses. kl1191 - stunning pictures and thanks for the tips. thaiobsessed and Habibi - thanks for the trip advice and the info on Hotel de la Paix . . . you convinced me not to second guess its choice. We definitely plan on doing the Khmer tasting menu at Meric, I'm sure there will be plenty of street food, and I've located a few suggestions from other sites so hopefully we'll eat well. And although I'm craving the baby cow meal Habibi enjoyed in Phnom Penh, we only have so much time . . . we had to cross Phnom Penh and Luang Prabang, Laos off the list because we didn't want to get just tourists' views of these places.
  • Post #10 - January 29th, 2011, 6:24 pm
    Post #10 - January 29th, 2011, 6:24 pm Post #10 - January 29th, 2011, 6:24 pm
    As much as I loved my time (and the food) in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, it's Siem Reap that stole my heart - spectacular sights, wonderful people and even some very good food.

    But don't forget that Siem Reap is largely about the temples . . . :

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    some of faces at Bayon

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    jungle overtaking temple at Ta Prohm, filming location for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

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    a tree vine for swinging among the ruins at Beng Mealea

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    magnificent pink and yellow sandstone of Banteay Srei (and perhaps the monkeys from Wizard of Oz?)

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    last but not least, Angkor Wat around sunrise


    But there was also very good food to be had in Siem Reap, and almost all of it was very inexpensive, but for our $31 7-course tasting menu at Meric, the restaurant at our hotel, the Hotel de la Paix.

    The food at Sugar Palm was excellent. The omelet filled with pork and vegetables and the Cambodia version of som tam, papaya salad were the items which really stood out. Although none of the Cambodian food offered the spice associated with Thai food, that's not to say that it wasn't delicious. In fact, the papaya salad was quite complex, herbaceous, and flat out delicious. And it paired well with the savory and delicious omelet. There was also a delicious curry with pineapple, I believe with chicken. Here are the pictures of the food at Sugar Palm:

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    omelet

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    omelet interior

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    papaya salad

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    curry with pineapple, and chicken?

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    curry plated with steamed rice


    We also ate very well at Viroth's, a very stylish (yet still inexpensive) spot where you can dine outdoors under the stars. Here's one of the dishes we had, although I can't remember exactly what it was. Fishy, eggy, a little spicy . . . all I know is that it was good and steamed in a banana leaf:

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    Another surprising meal was on the way to Beng Mealea temple. Beng Mealea is quite a drive from the other temples (about an hour by car), and quite an interesting drive through very rural Cambodia. Along the way we saw animals being butchered, farming, and oxen-pulled carts. We were getting hungry as we approached Beng Mealea and Mooni, the guide we hired at $25/day, recommended a little roadside spot just before entering Beng Mealea. Well, it was a bit westernized as are most of the food spots near temples in the area, but the food was great - a noodle dish with pork and chicken with ginger and curry:

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    We had better versions of fish amok than the one at Khmer Kitchen (where the food was decent, but nothing special), but it's the only one I photographed, so here it is:

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    fish amok



    Also at Khmer Kitchen, the drinks of choice:

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    And some juicy, delicious pork at Khmer Kitchen:

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    I have more to say and show with respect to Siem Reap, including the Khmer tasting menu at Meric, and I'll do that in my next post. Hope you enjoy.
    Last edited by BR on April 4th, 2016, 7:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  • Post #11 - January 29th, 2011, 6:59 pm
    Post #11 - January 29th, 2011, 6:59 pm Post #11 - January 29th, 2011, 6:59 pm
    Thanks for posting. It's a part of the world I'd like to get to some day. I look forward to reading about and seeing more pics from your trip!
  • Post #12 - January 30th, 2011, 12:56 pm
    Post #12 - January 30th, 2011, 12:56 pm Post #12 - January 30th, 2011, 12:56 pm
    Here are pictures from the 7-course tasting menu we had at Meric. The meal was quite good, but at $31/person really pricey compared to all of our other meals. Still, I'd say it was well worth it. It was explained that much of the menu is of the type Khmer royalty would have been served long ago.

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    pounded ambarella (like a very sour apple) with dried fish (l) and yam bean salad with prawn (r)


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    braised mam (a type of fish) with coconut milk and Khmer crudites (l) and chicken saraman curry (r) (served with rice, not shown)


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    stir fried frog with ginger


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    pork rib sour soup, "jungle style"


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    assorted Khmer sweets


    The frog was my favorite dish of the night and was outstanding, followed by the curry which although not very spicy was quite complex. Interestingly, before you think of the pork rib soup "jungle style" as being similar to the ultra-spicy jungle curry you might find at a Thai restaurant, I'll tell you that it was only medium spicy, which I believe was more in the style of there being less spice in Cambodia, as opposed to the food being toned down for westerners. But, I'm not expert.

    If you visit Siem Reap, in addition to the temples a visit to the floating village on Lake Tonle Sap, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, is worthwhile. Here are some pictures from the floating village:

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    Water will reach the base of the house in the wet season and they'll travel in the neighborhood by boat, but we visited during the heart of the dry season.


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    houses in one of the floating villages


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    a picturesque floating house


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    cleaning chickens


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    a trip home from the grocery store?


    Siem Reap is certainly more than just temples and floating villages though. There's a lot of construction, many luxury hotels, and many restaurants, bars, markets, art galleries and a very lively nightlife. And Siem Reap is beautiful even aside from the temples. Here are a couple of pictures from in front of our hotel and just a couple of blocks away:

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    Also worth noting is that there are a number of bakeries in the area selling French breads and pastries. However, we tried a number of items and were largely disappointed with the textures of the breads and pastries. Whatever French baking skills once existed in Siem Reap seem to have disappeared. Oh well, if you're visiting Siem Reap, it's not for French breads and pastries.
    Last edited by BR on April 4th, 2016, 7:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  • Post #13 - January 30th, 2011, 3:47 pm
    Post #13 - January 30th, 2011, 3:47 pm Post #13 - January 30th, 2011, 3:47 pm
    Just beautiful. Thank you.
  • Post #14 - January 30th, 2011, 7:47 pm
    Post #14 - January 30th, 2011, 7:47 pm Post #14 - January 30th, 2011, 7:47 pm
    Siem Reap has grown since I was there -- though I guess that's not surprising, since everyone was building something back then (about 6 years ago), including roads. However, the villages on Tonle Sap and the temples seem unchanged. I'm pleased to see that people are visiting Cambodia, because tourism is a real boon to any country with limited resources. (For example, about 65 percent of Thailand's income comes from tourism -- it can really pretty much support a country.) I'd love to see Cambodia do really well financially.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #15 - February 1st, 2011, 5:45 pm
    Post #15 - February 1st, 2011, 5:45 pm Post #15 - February 1st, 2011, 5:45 pm
    Cynthia, Siem Reap is growing, quite a bit. There was lots of construction, and it appeared that a number of larger hotels were being built. And the Cambodian people seem very welcome to increased tourism - the US$ is taken everywhere, and I was stunned by how well most people spoke English - better than Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket. In fact, I understand that there's a large demand for English teachers and a wait to get into English classes. My only fear is the damage being caused to the various temples by allowing everyone to climb all over them, almost without limitation. Anyway, I absolutely loved every minute I spent in Siem Reap. I'm just sorry I did not have an opportunity on this trip to visit Phnom Penh.

    Here are some more pictures I thought I'd share:

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    a boat being built at a floating village

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    a house being built at a floating village

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    a different type of boat

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    lotus leaves growing
    Last edited by BR on April 4th, 2016, 7:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #16 - February 8th, 2011, 9:36 am
    Post #16 - February 8th, 2011, 9:36 am Post #16 - February 8th, 2011, 9:36 am
    We were in Siem Reap in 1992 and am so surprised at the development. Seriously, neither my husband nor I can recall a single paved street. We stayed with a super friendly family that converted spare rooms in their house to tourists. There was one open air restaurant that we ate an unremarkable meal. The 'luxury hotel' at the entrance had closed down for renovation. The UN forces were everpresent and there was no sign of resoration at any of the temples. An aquaintance who visited the place recently said the scaffolding has obstructed views of many temples. We found the food in VietNam and Thailand much better than in Cambodia-on the whole.
    What disease did cured ham actually have?
  • Post #17 - February 8th, 2011, 6:28 pm
    Post #17 - February 8th, 2011, 6:28 pm Post #17 - February 8th, 2011, 6:28 pm
    Elfin wrote:We were in Siem Reap in 1992 and am so surprised at the development. Seriously, neither my husband nor I can recall a single paved street. We stayed with a super friendly family that converted spare rooms in their house to tourists. There was one open air restaurant that we ate an unremarkable meal. The 'luxury hotel' at the entrance had closed down for renovation. The UN forces were everpresent and there was no sign of resoration at any of the temples. An aquaintance who visited the place recently said the scaffolding has obstructed views of many temples. We found the food in VietNam and Thailand much better than in Cambodia-on the whole.

    That's amazing - I can only imagine what a different picture my photos paint of the Siem Reap you visited - many paved roads, some stop lights, many luxury hotels, and a lot of upscale restaurants. I suspect it's a lot easier to get a really good meal there now too . . . as I found out. I hope Siem Reap continues to progress, and I really hope that the citizens reap the benefits of these advances and increased tourism. The taxi drivers and tour guides sure sounded excited about the increased tourism and so many are learning to speak English to take advantage of these new opportunities.
  • Post #18 - January 20th, 2022, 3:54 pm
    Post #18 - January 20th, 2022, 3:54 pm Post #18 - January 20th, 2022, 3:54 pm
    Anyone have any more recent Siem Reap (or Phnom Penh) tips?
  • Post #19 - March 14th, 2022, 7:22 pm
    Post #19 - March 14th, 2022, 7:22 pm Post #19 - March 14th, 2022, 7:22 pm
    Circling back to briefly report that the food in Cambodia was fantastic across the board. So much herbaceousness, sourness and funk. Lots of restaurants are still closed temporarily as the country is in the very early stages of reopening, but the street food scene is absolutely booming. If anyone goes to Phnom Penh, I highly recommend taking a tour with Yi at Kingdom of Wonderlust. Super nice guy who is passionate and knowledgeable about Cambodia.

    Top bites:

    1) Grilled frogs stuffed with lemongrass, roasted peanuts, pork and more, served with a tamarind sauce and a spicy chili sauce.

    2) Prahok ktiss (1st pic)

    3) Grilled stick rice wrapped bananas

    Some pics:

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    Side note: There will never be a better time to travel to Cambodia than right now. At most of the temples around Siem Reap, guards outnumbered visitors. Even at Angkor Wat, I'd go minutes at a time without seeing another person.
  • Post #20 - March 15th, 2022, 10:21 am
    Post #20 - March 15th, 2022, 10:21 am Post #20 - March 15th, 2022, 10:21 am
    Fantastic photos! I should know after years of being on this board that I shouldn't look at photos when I'm hungry. :-)
    -Mary
  • Post #21 - March 15th, 2022, 10:28 am
    Post #21 - March 15th, 2022, 10:28 am Post #21 - March 15th, 2022, 10:28 am
    MarlaCollins'Husband wrote:Circling back to briefly report that the food in Cambodia was fantastic across the board. So much herbaceousness, sourness and funk. Lots of restaurants are still closed temporarily as the country is in the very early stages of reopening, but the street food scene is absolutely booming. If anyone goes to Phnom Penh, I highly recommend taking a tour with Yi at Kingdom of Wonderlust. Super nice guy who is passionate and knowledgeable about Cambodia . . .

    Thanks for the glimpse, Dan. Looks like one helluva trip.

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #22 - March 15th, 2022, 12:38 pm
    Post #22 - March 15th, 2022, 12:38 pm Post #22 - March 15th, 2022, 12:38 pm
    Wow!! I want one of every dish you posted. The frogs I’d serve to my stepson who I had the pleasure of completely freaking out by showing him your photo. I’m eternally grateful!!
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #23 - March 15th, 2022, 10:31 pm
    Post #23 - March 15th, 2022, 10:31 pm Post #23 - March 15th, 2022, 10:31 pm
    Hi,

    I have never seen a full frog used for a dish before, this is enlightening.

    Thank you for sharing!

    Cathy2
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #24 - March 17th, 2022, 10:28 pm
    Post #24 - March 17th, 2022, 10:28 pm Post #24 - March 17th, 2022, 10:28 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:Thanks for the glimpse, Dan. Looks like one helluva trip.
    =R=

    It really exceeded all expectations in every way, especially in terms of food (where I was ignorantly expecting Thai-lite). Realistically, I can't imagine I'll make it back to Cambodia, but Long Beach, CA and Lowell, MA are officially on my radar.

    boudreaulicious wrote:Wow!! I want one of every dish you posted. The frogs I’d serve to my stepson who I had the pleasure of completely freaking out by showing him your photo. I’m eternally grateful!!

    You can let your stepson know the meat in the last picture is also frog - hacked up very bony pieces of frog. And they were delicious.

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