My first day in Cambodia (Siem Reap to start), I started off right…. Off to the Market in search of Cambodian dish BAI SACH CHROUK (BBQ PORK AND RICE). Turns out it’s only a breakfast food and it was lunchtime. Found a little stall with noodle soup and gave it a whirl. My food adventure means I met Victoria, a lovely French woman who was also out food exploring on her first day. I started a trend of trying market soup… Truly the domino effect as I was joined by Victoria. Then, we were joined by two young Chinese guys… (“No vegetables!,” like an old RCA vinyl skipping on the record player) The counter was soon full with Cambodians and foreigners alike. (The soup was sweet, by the way! I had yellow noodles and Victoria rice, and I think I had chicken and she had chicken breast. Both yum! The sweet was surprising, though) We made plans in a few days to explore temples together. Love solo travelling! Saw her briefly at Angkor Wat the next day, as well. Sooooo serendipitous to see a familiar and super friendly face in a place with thousands of tourists!
So, on Tuesday, Victoria and I agreed to meet up for dinner two days later. She had a guidebook and we both were craving Cambodian food not the typical Western food of Siem Reap’s Pub Street like the majority of the other tourists. We followed the map of her French Lonely Planet. If you’ve ever used a Lonely Planet, the maps are good but not precise to which store it is exactly. We searched the block and the side of road it says it was to no avail. But, I had a feeling and asked a restaurant owner if he knew of the Angkor Palm. He said his restaurant used to be the Angkor Palm but his Italian “Red Tomato” had taken over. I asked how long ago and he said Angkor Palm had closed down about six months ago due to high overhead costs. Fair enough, being at the outskirts of Pub Street. As we discussed a second choice, a Tuk Tuk driver approached and asked if we were looking for the Angkor Palm. Now, the Tuk Tuk drivers in Siem Reap are like white rice in Asia! Plentiful and piled high!!!! And they are persistent. Four deep, and overlapping down the street like stacked plastic chairs at a Lions Club Hall, each driver will compete over each other and scream at you. I actually counted forty nine offers of Tuk Tuks as we explored the night market for about an hour the next night.
Anyway, for the salesmanship, we were skeptical but I asked him a few questions like when and why it moved, and if it was really the Angkor Palm. Could we walk there? How far away was it? Where approximately was it? How much our ride would be….. His description indicated it was actually further out of town than my awesome little suite. It still seemed a bit of a gamble but, I figure, a food adventure is a worthwhile adventure! It was a dollar (USD) each if it was a fail.
It really was far away! And a massive location. We were greeted like royalty at the door. And soon saw why… There was a mere two occupied tables in a rather expansive restaurant. It was lovely and the servers attentive!
I decided on Chicken Amok, another Cambodian dish on my list of local foods to sample. Victoria had Chicken Ginger. It was pricier than street food, my set meal was $6USD but I figured why not. It came with rice, stir fried morning glory and the chicken in the Amok amazing coconuty red sauce. Definitely on my list of amazingness!!!! Success.
We were both super pleased with our meals! Though I did laugh humorously at SE Asia; Victoria’s Chicken Ginger was just ginger and chicken in a pleasant sauce.
Overall the quest for Angkor Palm Restaurant was a success!