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A Horse In Cambodia – Cheap Eats Are On The Menu

By Dan Hutton on May 15, 2013 in Other

It’s not hard being a foodie in this part of the world. And the price is right.

After all where can you go in Sydney and get a tasty piece of fish barbecued in ginger and wrapped in foil, six freshly-cooked prawns and a fresh salad, all for around $3.

Sceptics will say: “Yeah, but it’s Cambodian seafood and probably glows in the dark.”

Well be that the case, there is plenty of it and I have not had any bad affects from regularly dining out on this Asian fare, although a couple of my smart-arse Aussie mates said I am now showing up on Google Maps!.

What I have found here in Phnom Penh is that you soon learn where the best places to eat are, judging by their popularity with both the local community and us ‘barangs’ (westerners).

Cheap eats are everywhere from the corner noodle bar where you can fill up for around $1.50 to the more ‘upmarket’ local eateries where you can get enough food for two for under $10 which includes a bottomless glass of beer.

And there’s even a food hall here.

Of course if you are a meat and two vegies type of person your tastes can also be catered to.

The meat over here leaves a lot to be desired but some western-style restaurants boast “prime Australian beef”, but that comes at a price.

For about $14 you can tuck into a good-size steak, but why bother when you can get back home and go to the local pub and get just as good for about $10.

And why travel to Asia and eat steak anyway? That’s not what it’s all about.

But if you’re hanging out for a stylish nosh-up you can choose from a plethora of classy Chinese, Vietnamese, French, Indonesian, Indian and even Middle Eastern establishments.

Western food is probably the most expensive. A lot of the bars and cafes have taken to doing big breakfasts similar to what you get on the cafe scene back home. Sure they are not as expensive as their more trendy cousins at Bronte, but you can usually get about three good local feeds for the price of one western meal.

Doing your own shopping for food can be a bit of an eye-opener as well.

You can get a bunch of the local bananas for about $1, but a litre tub of yoghurt will set you back $11 – far more expensive than in Australia.

You find most toiletries and other Australian home comforts are also lot more expensive than Down Under. It’s all to do with supply and demand.

Coffee shops are another luxury and even though the coffe is close to what you would expect at home, the price is no cheaper.

There is a Gloria Jeans here, but also a truck load of really clicky little cafes where you can take the laptop and use the free wi-fi in lovely air-conditioned comfort while slurping on a $3.50 latte, a frappe or a smoothie.
Outside of the cafes the local brews are the perfect way to clear the cobwebs – and any other ailment you may have.

The local coffee comprises a thick tar-like substance which is broken down with condensed milk. Fresh milk is not really an option – except for westerners such as myself who are partial to a bowl of cereal in the mornings. But milk doesn’t stay fresh for long in this heat and you are soon faced with a coagulated carton of a smelly jelly-like substance.

With the roads in a terrible condition here I have suggested at the end of the day to keep emptying the coffee pots outside our office and in no time we will have a surface of freeway quality.

So there you have it. While not rating in any of Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute meal deals, the food over here is good value and, in most cases, very tasty indeed.

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