Multiple Tour Packages
Foods and Drinks
Cambodia Food and Drinks
Soup is served as an accompaniment to almost all Cambodian meals, though it is always served with the main dishes, not before as in the West. Some of the better-known soup dishes include Somlar Machou Banle (Sour fish soup), Somlar Machou Bangkang (Sour and spicy prawn soup, akin to Thai tom yam gung), Somlar chapek (Pork soup with ginger) and Mon sngor (chicken and coriander soup). Num Banh Choc (Rice noodle and fish soup) is a common and popular Cambodian breakfast.
++Rice and fish are the basic foods enjoyed by Cambodians. Delicious noodle soups are available at cafes. Fresh seafood is plentiful at Sihanouk Ville. In major cities a wide range of culinary fare is on offer including; Chinese, Thai, French, Korean, Japanese, Indian, Vietnamese and Middle Eastern.
The Cambodian food combines Chinese and Indian influences with its own; native recipes. Most famous are the curries and the spicy hot seasoned stews, plus the smooth and tasty coconut curries. Most meals use rice as the filler, but there are many noodle dishes: and salads without rice.
Ovens are not part of the ordinary Cambodian kitchen or small restaurant, for cooked food is either boiled or stir-fried. Cambodian food is never bland. Its range of spices includes chili, pepper, coriander leaf and root, lemon grass, basil, ginger, mint, cardamom, and screw pine. Sour soups are popular and meat and fish are always served with sauces like shrimp paste, tamarind, or honey with chili.
Fish sauce is the basic substitute for salt across the country. Spicy salads are a local specialty. They are made from raw prawns, meat, green papaya, field crab, or chopped raw meat, with chili and other spices. Like the various noodle dishes, they are often sold at street side stalls for those who want a light meal. Cambodian have no food bias and are always willing to try any sort of meat, wild or domestic, and most seafood.
++A Traditional Meal
Rice seedlings are first planted in one part of the field, where they grow while the farmer cultivates and prepares another part of the field in which the rice will be transplanted at the start of the heavy rain season. Weeds and pests attack the rice fields all summer. Hoppers, rice bugs, field crabs, mice, and herons keep the farmers busy. After the rains comes the harvest, followed by the exhausting job of threshing, winnowing, and milling the rice grains. Most Cambodian prefers the highly polished variety called Angkor laar, or “beautiful rice.”
Coffee is sold in most restaurants. It is either served black or with generous dollops of condensed milk, which makes it very sweet. Chinese-style tea is popular and in many Khmer and Chinese restaurants a pot of it will automatically appear as soon as you sit down.
You can find excellent fruit smoothies all over the country, known locally as a tikalok. Just look out for a stall with fruit and a blender and point to the flavors you want. Keep an eye on the preparatory stages or you may end up with heaps of sugar and a frothy egg.
On a hot day you may be tempted by the stuff in Fanta bottles on the side of the road. Think again, as it is actually petrol (gas).
Other common dishes include Khao Poun (Rice noodles in a coconut-based sauce), Amok (fish with coconut milk steamed in a banana leaf), Sach Mon Chha Khnhei (stir-fried chicken with ginger), Somlar Machou Sachko (Sour beef stew) and Choeeng Chomni Chrouc Chean (Fried pork spareribs). An Sam Chruk (Pork & soybeans marinated in ginger and chili) can be delicious, but packs a fairly hefty punch. Similarly watch out for Pong Tea Kon (Fertilized duck egg containing an embryo, like the Filipino balut) which is not to everybody's taste. Many dishes are served Trey, or grilled. Thus Trey Aing (Grilled fish) is available just about everywhere, as is trey Chean Neung Spey (fried fish with vegetables). By extension, Trey Mon is grilled chicken, Trey Sachko is grilled beef, and so on. Fish and meat dishes not served with noodles are generally accompanied by rice. Indispensable condiments--certainly as far as the Cambodians are concerned--are Prahoc (fish sauce just like Thai Nam Pla and Vietnamese Nuoc Mam) and Tuk Trey (fish sauce with ground, roasted peanuts added).
Travelers up country will generally find themselves limited to Cambodian cuisine or to the fairly ubiquitous baguette and paté. In towns of any size--all provincial capitals, for example--Chinese food is widely available, generally reflecting the southern coastal origin of most of Cambodia's Overseas Chinese migrants. Expect, therefore, Cantonese, Hokkien, Teochou and Hailam fare, but don't waste your time looking for Szechuan or Yunnanese cuisine. In the west of the country, notably at Poipet, Sisophon, Battambang and Siem Reap, Thai cuisine is widespread. Similarly in the east, at Kampot, Takeo, Kompong Cham and Svay Rieng, Vietnamese culinary influence is common. Sihanoukville excels at seafood cooked in every conceivable way, and also has a fast growing smattering of Western food outlets--French, Italian, British, German and Australian.
Phnom Penh has, naturally enough, the widest range of restaurants in the city. Here the visitor can find everything listed above as well as Greek, Turkish, North Indian, South Indian, Malay and-increasingly--'Fast Food' restaurants. The capital also serves some of the best French food available in Indochina, as well as some unexpected colonial hangovers from the Middle East and North Africa, notably couscous and merguez spicy Moroccan sausage. Pizza is increasingly popular, but the 'Pizza Hut' restaurant near the Cambodia-Vietnam Friendship Monument is, at time of writing, a copycat operation.
Laos Food & Drink
The staple for lowland Lao is sticky rice, though many highland groups don't eat it at all. In fact, Laos boasts more than 3,000 traditional rice varieties, with colors ranging from black and purple to red and brown. It is eaten steamed or boiled, with a wide range of meats, vegetables, poultry, and fish, all well spiced and flavored. Lao cooking uses an astounding array of flavorings including garlic, chilies, tamarind, sugar, lime juice, and fermented fish sauce. Fresh salads, native sausages, and noodles are other common ingredients. Most food is dry and spicy, and often watered down with fruit juices, beer, or plain water. Grilling, boiling, stewing, and steaming all come into play in a Lao kitchen. Stir-frying is now also very common, but actually considered to be a Chinese influence. Stews are often green because of the many fresh vegetables used. Soups you will encounter include tom cheut, keng, and keng soua. Keng is characterized by ginger and padek, and keng soua is keng that contains both galangal and ginger. Tom cheut is a mild soup with tofu and no spices.
Ping is grilled food, be that chicken, pork, or field rat (everything that is healthy and edible in the rice field will eventually go into the pot). Laab is a spicy salad that is very popular. You will also find restaurants serving the "cook-it-yourself" steam boat and grill. A fire is lit under a large metal grill, surrounded by a trough at the side for boiling vegetables and noodles.
Since Laos is landlocked, it will come as no surprise that fish tends to be freshwater. You will also find a lot of Vietnamese food and Chinese food. Pho (pronounced "fur") is the ubiquitous Vietnamese noodle soup. It contains pork or beef, plenty of fresh vegetables, and fragrant fresh mint.
As with elsewhere in Southeast Asia, the French influence remains. Fresh baguette (khao ji), strong filtered coffee, and pâté sandwiches (khao ji pâté) are all available on the street. Laos is also a major coffee producer, so if caffeine is your thing you are in for a treat. Ask for "kah-fe Lao" to make sure you don't get served a cup of instant granules rather than the real thing. Both Vientiane and Luang Prabang boast superb French restaurants with authentic Gallic fare and great wine. Both places are a gourmet treat and have gotten better over the years as competition has forced up quality. The food in both towns is world-beating in terms of both quality and price.
Water in restaurants is safe to drink since it is purified. Apart from that, stick with bottled water. There are also the usual soft, sweet fizzy drinks available. Then there is Beer Lao. This used to be the only beer on the market -- now in tourist areas you can also get Heineken, Carlsberg, and Tiger, although Beer Lao is still by far the cheapest and most popular. Beer Lao has achieved high international status and is now widely exported. People rave about it as if they had joined a religious cult. It's hip, it's fashionable, and it's popular. Laos is a country that is very proud of its national beer, though there is serious dissent. Some people describe it as a flat, overrated, chemical brew. If you like beer, you will have to decide for yourself whether you wish to be a Beer Lao evangelist. The other thing that Lao people drink in quantity is "lao-lao." It is an astonishingly cheap, brutally strong white rice liquor and is really best avoided unless you are a supremely confident hangover adventurer. The stuff is lethal. As with French food, Laos is also a great place for French wine in the major towns and it is also very reasonably priced.
Thai Food & Drink
Restaurants and Food Shops
Yangon has kept its local touch in terms of dining. Small teashops line up the streets of Yangon where one would find delicious local dishes served with favorite hot beverages. The "mohinga" is the most popular snack item and is served in practically all corners of town. This light, curry-based fish noodle soup is very tasty and although traditionally eaten for breakfast, is now served all-day. This tropical country also offers a wide variety of native, tropical fruits and while there is essentially no season for these fruits, most of the sweet and delicious variety come out during summer months.
Vietnam Food and Drink
Boiled rice and pork cakes are usually cooked 2-3 days before Tet. Both can be kept for about two weeks in cool temperature. However, after this time they become hard and must be re-boiled.
Soak some green beans overnight in water to soften. Drain, rub and clean to remove the skin, and leave to dry. Next, cook the beans in a steamer and grind. Form into balls the size of tennis balls.
Soak some glutinous rice overnight. Clean and rinse. Mix with a little salt. Cut fresh pork meat (lean or fat, according to personal taste) into 2cm strips. Mix with salt, fish sauce and pepper, and leave for about one hour.
Clean dong leaves (leaves from arrowroot) and place them over each other to form a cross. Place an amount of rice in the centre of the leaves. Shape into a square (the southern version is in a circle). Press a "ball" of green bean on top. Then, add 1-2 pieces of marinated pork, then more green bean, and finally rice. Press firmly into a compact square and wrap the leaves over to cover the cake completely. Tie with bamboo strings. Place in a large pot of boiling water and boil overnight. Squeeze the moisture out by placing it in a colander with a heavy object on top.
To serve, untie and open the leaves. Invert on a plate and cut into pieces using the bamboo strings, not a knife. Serve cold.
Canh mang (Dried bamboo shoot soup)
Bong (Dried pig skin)
To make fresh chicken stock, add dried shrimps and dried huong (perfume) mushrooms, which have been pre-soaked in warm water, to 2-3 chicken carcasses. Bring to boil and simmer. Remove the dried mushrooms. Cut carrot and kohlrabi into decorative shapes (flowers, leaves etc). Boil the dried pork skin in the chicken stock for several minutes until tender. Add French/ string beans. To serve, mix all drained ingredients (place vegetables on top) and garnish with coriander.
Hanh muoi (Pickled onions)
Mien (Vermicelli noodles)
Moc (Pork soup)
Ga ran or luoc (Fried or boiled chicken)
Boiled version: served with julienne lemon grass.
Ca chep kho rieng (Carp with galangal)
Bo kho que (Beef with cinnamon)
Add fish sauce and salt, and cook over a low heat. Only cut beef when about to serve. The meat should be firm but not tough.
Xoi gac (Steamed momordica glutinous rice)
Steam in a rice steamer. During steaming, add some chicken fat and stir through. When steamed, add a little sugar and stir through with chopsticks. Mound onto a plate and decorate with the black seeds from the fruit.
Che kho (Soft green bean cake)
Mut (Preserved fruit)
Apple: Pierce skin lengthwise, but don’t cut too deep. Place in a bowl of cold water and lime. Soak overnight. Wash carefully and dry. Cover in red sugar. Stir very carefully in a dry pan over low heat until sugar melts and solidifies. Take off heat. Press down carefully on top of apple to make into shape evocative of a seashell.
If using a kumquat, a traditional Tet fruit, use white sugar to keep the natural orange colour of the fruit. You must also keep the stalk in to keep the shape. You must also carefully press juice out after piercing skin.
Last, but not least