Sunday 10 August 2014

Phnom Penh: Bad Banh Xeo

The last time I went to Phnom Penh was a year ago, you can read about it here. I was very impressed by the fried chicken wings and had a good dining experience. In contrast, this time wasn't as great. Everyone who has eaten here knows there's almost always a line up to eat here. We went during dinner time and was told that it would be a 45 minute wait. The 45 minute waited turned into 1 hour and 5 minutes. I would wait 30 minutes for food here but I would not wait for over an hour again.

Finally we were seated at 8pm and fortunately the food came quickly. I heard the beef carpaccio is well known here so we ordered that. It was different looking than the ones I tried at Joe Fortes, at Hapa Izakaya and at Ebisu. At the other restaurants the slices of meat were separated and could be picked up one by one but this one the meat was a big round piece. There was a lot of vinegar and cilantro on top which overpowered any taste of the beef. Though the beef was thinly sliced and tender in itself.

Beef carpaccio
When I went to Vietnam I loved the banh xeo there. I was excited to see that it was on the menu so I ordered it and it was very disappointing. It didn't even compare to the streetside ones with minimal ingredients that I tried in Vietnam. The egg and flour batter was too thick and the whole thing was generally bland tasting. There was some shrimp and too much bean sprout wedged inside which made the entire banh xeo soggy and falling apart. Do not recommend if you've tried authentic ones.

Banh xeo
Another thing we tried that was only mediocre were these steamed buns with pork, radish and dried shrimp inside. It was like a larger, rounded version of dumplings you can easily find at dim sum restaurants. The vinegar accompanying the dish was quite strong.

Overall I'd stick with what's popular on the Phnom Penh menu which are the chicken wings, the noodles and the rice dishes. The other menu items we tried that are famous in the home country weren't good here.

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