One of the great things about Asia Hotel is the location. It's right around the corner from Psar Thmei, the Central Market. You can't miss the monolithic, kinda scary looking building.
The building is surrounded by stalls with interconnecting swatches of tarp, canvas, and other materials. I love the drainage system!
The market itself is an impressive array of goods, though I just scratched the surface since we didn't have much time.
Phnom Penh itself is a bustling city, if you wonder where all of the folks live, you just have to raise your eyes above street level.
As for the streets...... if Hanoi was controlled chaos, Phnom Penh was just chaos.....
There weren't as many motorbikes, but many more cars and Suv's, the lanes are wider, and folks drive faster.
We saw at least half a dozen accidents during our very short stay in Phnom Penh! Some of them looked pretty bad.
You know it's tough when we saw a Red Cross truck drop off these folks to direct traffic......at a traffic light no less!
And yet, it was on these streets where I had my favorite meal in Phnom Penh. Even though it was pretty early, my stomach was rumbling. We noticed a young man hauling a cart down the busy street. Every so often we'd see a signal, or hear someone call him. He'd stop, and prepare some noodles on the spot. And by the way folks were chowing down.......
We hailed the young man, who gave us a wonderful smile, and through sign language, indicated what we wanted. And he was off to work.
It was simple fare, reconstituted packaged noodles. But it was what the regular folk ate, so you know it would cure the hunger pangs. The noodles were stir fired on a metal pan, mixed with seasonings, fish sauce, and crowned with that necessary topping....a fried egg!
I remember being satisfied, and it filled me up. I may not recall how the noodles tasted, but sometimes that's not important. What I will always remember is the young man's kind and gentle demeanor...and even though we didn't speak each other's language, the smile says it all.
And it's what we'll always remember.....
One thing was pretty clear by this time. We always say, "it ain't a vacation until I fall or get bad sunburn." So I guess it was time to go home.
In Siem Reap, I made sure to put on sunblock........but I think I missed a spot......
Here's another C(leaning) O(ou the) M(emory) C(ard) post from our trip to Cambodia.
It was quite unfortunate that by the time we hit Phnom Penh, both the Missus and I were kinda bushed. On our first night we were looking for something close to the hotel. As we turned the corner on Street 136, we came across a whole street of Chinese shops and restaurants. It appears that this street is sort of a "Little Chinatown", with a grocer, and several restaurants. After walking down the street, and past the guys making lā miàn (hand pulled noodles)....
We decided to forgo our search, and have some Chinese Food. We were tired, the heat was getting to us.....and frankly, I was missing Chinese food.
We chose the Sichuan Restaurant on the row, which sounds strange because of the soaring temperatures (we visited Cambodia during April, the hottest month of the year), but we liked the look of the restaurant. Plus, when the Missus spoke to the Gentleman running the front of house, his accent was undoubtably Sichuan.
The restaurant was clean, and the menu fairly extensive.....and with a real "Cambodian" feel. There was quite a bit of seafood on the menu.
Another touch was the addition of a plate of raw garlic and red chilies to be used as a condiment.
I nspite of the heat, we found that we were ravenous and ordered a bunch of food, which finished in its entirety. The Missus consulted with the owner of the restaurant on a couple of dishes.
We started with Ma Po Dofu:
This was more of a "brown sauce" Mapo Tofu and was very mild. Very un-Sichuan like.
When in Vietnam and Cambodia, we got into the habit of ordering whatever the fresh vegetable of the day was, as it was always pretty good.
And this was no exception, as it was done simply, and cooked perfectly.
We also decided on trying the Water Boiled Beef, a classic Sichuan dish.
Again, this lacked heat, but came with a good amount of numbing Sichuan Peppercorns.
The owner of the restaurant highly recommended the live "Mekong Riverfish", so we ordered it.
The Missus calls this, "the best fresh water fish ever...." It was simply prepared, steamed, with soy sauce, ginger, scallion, and sizzled with oil, but man this fish was good! The flesh was delicate, moist, light, flakey, with a hint of sweetness. I'm not a big fan of freshwater fish, but this changed my opinion forever.
So what kind of fish was this?
You got me...the Missus asked the owner who said that he doesn't know the Cambodian name for it, and they don't have this in Sichuan, but said they call it something like "Elephant fish" in Mandarin. So maybe one of you will know the English name of this.....
Regardless, that fish was great! And paid the "exhorbitant" price of a whole $12/US for this meal. That's the price of one dish (or less) in San Diego.
"Sichuan Cookshop" 111 Street 136
The next day, we were after some lunch before our drive to the airport. We had just taken a walk through Psar Thmei (the Central Market), and headed back to the hotel, when we noticed that this restaurant:
Had just gotten their delivery of live "Mekong riverfish":
We instantly stopped, and knew what was for lunch!
The interior of this restaurant could have passed as a sibling of the Sichuan restaurant in layout.
Again, the first thing delivered to our table was again what appears to be the standard condiment, the raw garlic and chopped red chilies.
Along with a plate of peanuts....which turned out to be not such a great idea for the Missus's stomach.
And of course we had the vegetaable of the day:
And since this was a Hangzhou restaurant, of course the Young Lady running the place told us to get one of the fish "Red Cooked". In this case the fish was deep fried, than quickly braised with a pseudo-red cooked sauce.
This was a bit of overkill. The sauce overpowered the delicate flavor of the fish.
We ordered the other fish done simply with a ginger-scallion preparation, like we had eaten the night before.
Again the fish had a wonderful texture and flavor. In this case however, it was not prepared with quite the same amount of finesse as the fish we had the previous night. There were a few sections of the fish that were still raw.
Still, for ten bucks, this wasn't bad at all. And we got to bid the other fish farewell before we left the restaurant, and made our way to the airport.
Hang Zhou Restaurant 81 Street 136
There's a part of me that wished that I gotten some Cambodian food for lunch....but there's another bigger part of me that is so happy I got to sample this fish...whatever it is.
COMC, definition: When a kind of forgetful blogger tries to "Clean Out the Memory Card" and posts on events that happened quite a while back.
Recently, the Missus reminded me that I had never posted on our two days in Phnom Penh. I didn't believe Her...."there's no way I forgot to do posts on Phnom Penh." And yet I did. So pardon me while I C(lean) O(ut the) M(emory) C(ard) and catch up on all those potential posts that have been languishing on my hard drive.
We had decided to "bus it" to Phnom Penh from Siem Reap, it was cheap, and it gave a glimpse of the countryside. The bus happened to make a stop in Kampong Thom. And while everyone rushed into the nice and clean restaurant and shop. We noticed something several blocks away. It was a rather large market. It was situated on a large dusty, drab, patch of dirt, with piles of garbage lying around, but it was interesting. It was also fascinating to note that no one on the bus ventured even close to this market. So here's a few photos:
How's this for a big pile of bugs?
Andof course there's always prepared food..... just as in Vietnam, Baguette Sandwiches are very popular.
And there were several of these typical eating stands.
Each stand had pots or trays lined with dishes...a steam table, without steam. You were free to peer into the pots, and eyeball the various items.
You pick out what you want, and the dishes usually come with rice.....have a seat and eat.
Unfortunately we had a bus to catch.....
We made it into Phnom Penh, and in spite of the very comfortable bus ride on the very clean Mekong Express Bus ($10 Siem Reap to Phnom Penh), after hitting the National Museum of Cambodia I needed a rest. Instead of staying along Tonle Sap, we decided to stay on busy Monivong Boulevard. Our Hotel was the Asia Hotel. This hotel has a special place in our heart.....it was quite quirky in several ways. First, many of the folks working here are somewhat detached, but the folks who are nice, are really...well kinda overboard nice. The lobby smelled kind of strange...the fragrances from the attached restaurant permeated everything as the lobby did not have great ventilation. And then there were the signs....everywhere..... Tons of signs in the lobby of things you cannot do:
Everything from No Cooking and No Durian, to no drying laundry, to no bringing strange women (!) into your room. And it seemed that management would not be responsible for anything!
And to top it off there was this sign...yes you too can fire off a B40 Rocket Launcher for just 200 bucks!
When I read the ($8 US) "go to shooting by taxis 2 ways".....I couldn't stop laughing. I hope no one took that literally! BTW, I saw a couple of young men "packing" when we went for a walk....I'm guessing this is legal in Cambodia. And there was a fridge in lobby where you could grab a bottle (or two, or three, or....) of beer, and an attendant would pop the top, and you'd trot off to your room.....
And then there were the hallways. Did you ever see the movie "Ju-on" (the Grudge)? I found the perfect setting for a sequel. The gloss white along with bad flourescent lighting, combined with rather tight hallways, is not very flattering.
In spite of these somewhat amusing quirks, the rooms were very large, clean, and the hot water was....well hot!
And thankfully, the A/C worked well, and the beds were comfortable.
And on the cleanliness note. This young lady was death on two legs for any flying insect in the lobby. We called her the "Ex-term-in-NATOR", and she worked with a dedicated fervor. I'm still looking for one of those battery powered fly zappers......but I don't know if they sell them here in the states.
And yet, there was something even more amusing......
When we checked in, one of the young men, looked at me proudly, and guided me toward an adjoining doorway, telling me: "we are very modern, and advanced...."
So what was he talking about.....some kind of cutting edge technology?
"We are the first to have......" He proudly puffed out his chest.
"A KFC in Cambodia!"
Yep folks, you heard it right here. And this KFC did bang up business...plus the Missus turned out to be quite fond of Mirinda Orange.
Of course this KFC had it's own regional specialty:
Called Colonel Rice (which I believe is a Malaysian KFC item), which I tried....it's rice in some bland seasoning with sweet raisins (ick) covered with gravy. One thing I did like was the inclusion of chili paste with everything.
Just think, among all of the strong selling points of the hotel, big rooms, cold A/C, comfy beds.....KFC outshone them all!