Phnom Penh is a Vietnamese and Cambodian restaurant located in Chinatown. It is one of Vancouver’s most popular restaurants and I’m a bit embarrassed that it took me this long to come try it (don’t judge). The neighbourhood is a bit sketchy and the atmosphere is nothing to get excited about, but everyone knows you come here for the food. My friend Melissa and I came here on a Sunday around 5pm and it was already getting packed. Luckily we got in pretty fast because there were only two of us, but be prepared to wait in long line ups when you come here.
Before we got our food they brought us a complementary bowl of pork broth. It was an awkward size because there were two of us, but it wasn’t really large enough to share. The broth was flavourful but the large bones in it were a bit unappetizing and there wasn’t much else to it.
The first dish we ordered was the butter beef ($12.85). After hearing rave reviews about this dish my expectations were pretty high. The meat was definitely tender and there were lots of paper thin slices of it covering the plate. The ones that lined the bottom of the plate got soaked in the sweet and tangy soy sauce and they were coated in cilantro. The first few bites I had of this I really enjoyed, but the pieces of beef that had soaked in the sauce for too long were a bit overwhelming.
The thing that Phnom Penh is most famous for is their deep-fried chicken wings ($14.50). These chicken wings are delicious and perfect. The batter on the outside is extra crispy and they season it with spices, which made it a bit sweet and salty. The wings are also topped with sautéed garlic and green onions. The chicken on the inside was moist and a lemon pepper sauce was served on the side to dip them in. It was a bit awkward to dip the flat wings into the tiny bowl, but I loved the fresh lemon flavour. These are a must order if you go to Phnom Penh.
The last dish we ordered, which is also one of the more popular ones was the luc lac which is filet beef with egg ($9.50). This comes on a bed of rice with some veggies on the side and is topped with sliced beef in a sauce and a golden fried egg. The egg is meant to be broken and mixed up with the meat and rice. The slices of beef were juicy and the soy based sauce reminded me of a less sweet teriyaki sauce. I was expecting this dish to be a bit boring, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It was hearty, the portion was large, and it was simple but tasty.
Overall I enjoyed the food a Phnom Penh and I’m glad I finally got to see what all the fuss is about. Their top three dishes were all tasty and pretty affordable and we left stuffed. Even though I enjoyed my experience and I would return, I feel that Phnom Penh is a bit over hyped and I don’t think it’s the absolute best in Vancouver.
Yes, for tasty and unique eats.